How to Know If a Blood Clot Formed Over a Tooth Extraction

Blood clots are important in the healing process following tooth extraction. The loss of any clot following the dental procedure can lead to "dry socket," which can infect the area after the extraction. If a blood clot does not form or if it is dislodged it can harm or prolong the healing process. A dentist needs to be immediately contacted if this happens. Clots can become dislodged within the first 24 hours after extraction from vigorous rinsing or spitting. Suction from a straw or smoking can also dislodge a clot. Hot liquids, such as coffee or soup, can dissolve the clot.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Keep the gauze over the extraction site so firm pressure is applied for about an hour. The dentist usually provides you with gauze following extraction. You will leave the office with gauze in your mouth over the treated area.

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Remove gauze carefully to see if the bleeding has stopped.

Apply more gauze to control any bleeding during the first 24 hours. A slightly moistened tea bag is an effective gauze substitute and even helps in the formation of clotting because of the tea's tannic acid. If bleeding persists after 24 hours, contact your dentist.

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When the clot starts forming you will notice a dark red film-like substance over the extraction. It may even look and feel like a soft piece of chocolate.

Be careful when touching the area and only touch it if it is difficult to see the clot, depending on where the extraction is located. A dental mirror can help during this process. You should only have to touch the spot briefly, but not at all if you can see the dark clot.

Instead of brushing, rinse gently with a mixture of salt and water for the next few days.


The failure of a blood clot to form only happens in about 5 percent of tooth extractions. It may result in pain after several days. If no clot forms or if it is dislodged, the dentist should apply medication to the socket.