Do I Eat With Gauze In Mouth After Extraction?

Hand written by Dr David Chen, an actively practicing dentist and avid writer. #doctorswrite

You’ve finally made it home after your tooth extraction or wisdom teeth removal. Although you did have to make a detour to the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions. It’s about time for you to take your medications and it’s not a good idea to take it on an empty stomach.

girl eating mcdonalds french fries

However, you’re still biting on gauze because your dentist told you to keep using it until it stopped bleeding. It hasn’t stopped yet so what are you supposed to do with the gauze?

Should you just eat with gauze in the mouth? Do you also drink with the gauze in the mouth as well? Well, what do you do because you need to take the prescriptions and you’re hungry too.

What to do with gauze while eating

Prior to eating anything, you should take the gauze out of your mouth before you do so. After you finish eating you can place a new piece of gauze back into your mouth. The old piece that you took out should be discarded in the waste bin because it is full of blood from the extraction.

Reasons for removing the gauze:

  • Easier to eat. Keeping the gauze in your mouth makes it very difficult to chew. You’re literally trying to do two opposing things at the same time. For the gauze you need to stay biting down while for chewing you need to constantly open and close.
  • More hygienic. If you eat with the gauze in the mouth, it will trap a lot of food in it by the end of the meal. If you bite back down into the gauze that is full of food, you’ll be pushing the food into the extraction socket. That sounds like a recipe for food getting stuck in the extraction hole.
  • Tastes better. That gauze which you’ve been biting on for a while is most likely saturated with blood. Eating with it at the same time will not taste very good.

In summary, it is simply more practical to take the gauze out of your mouth from the tooth extraction before you eat. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep it in your mouth while you’re trying to chew food.

With that being said, it does call into question why you’re even asking this question to begin with. We answered because you asked but, it doesn’t make a lot of sense as to why you’re trying to eat when you still need to use gauze.

You’re not ready to eat if you still need gauze

If you’re still biting on gauze it means that the bleeding from the extraction hasn’t stopped yet. That probably means that you shouldn’t be eating yet because you’re not ready for it.

Taking into account how long the numbness lasts and how long it takes for the bleeding to stop, you really shouldn’t be eating yet!

  • The local anesthesia lasts for about an additional 2-3 hours even after the extraction is completed. Although just as a disclaimer, some of our patients have been numb for even longer than that, 4-6 hours even!
  • It also takes about 3 hours of biting on gauze before the socket stops bleeding.

Essentially, the timing for how long to bite on gauze and for when the numbness wears away actually coincide. You should know better than to try eating while you’re still numb from the anesthesia. There are detrimental side effects if you eat before the anesthesia wears off.

Consequences of eating while still numb:

  • Bite your lip
  • Bite your cheek
  • Bite your tongue
  • Can burn yourself from hot foods

What we’re trying to say is that if you’re still using gauze, you’re probably still numb. That means you’re not permitted to eat yet. You might as well wait for the numbness to wear off and to stop using gauze before you have a meal. It’ll be more enjoyable as well since it won’t taste like a black and blue steak from all that blood mixing into your food!

What to do with gauze while drinking

After your extraction, before drinking anything, you should take the gauze out of your mouth. After you finish drinking you can place a new piece of gauze back into your mouth. The old piece that you took out should be discarded in the taste bin since it is dirty and already saturated with blood.

Reasons for taking out the gauze before drinking:

  • More hygienic. It is not a good idea to be drinking a smoothie, milk, or anything with sugar in it. All of that sugar will saturate the gauze. Essentially you’ll be placing this sugar filled gauze next to your teeth and you may end up with cavities. It’ll be cleaner and healthier if you don’t use sugar saturated gauze.
  • Tastes better. The gauze that you’ve been biting on is most likely saturated with blood. If you drink with it in, you’ll be tasting a lot of blood. That makes for a very untasty drink if you know what we mean.

The principles for drinking after an extraction are mostly the same as eating. Although you are permitted to drink on the side that is not numb. Just make sure whatever you’re drinking is not too hot because you may burn the numb side.

When can I stop using gauze?

Officially you should stop using gauze after the extraction socket has stopped bleeding. On average that should take about three hours or so. Some people may require less time while others may take more time but 3 hours is the average.

As a reminder, you should be switching out to a new piece of gauze every 30 minutes. You repeat this process until the bleeding has completely stopped or it has a very light ooze.

There is no such thing as leaving the gauze in for too long but a new piece will be more effective! Using the same gauze will still work but it just won’t be as effective.


If you need to eat or drink, you should remove the gauze from your mouth before doing so. It’s not very practical to leave it in your mouth. In fact, it may even have adverse side effects if you do so.

Therefore you should take it out and then simply place a new one back in after you’re done. That is the best way to approach this situation! Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget the rest of the instructions for the tooth extraction aftercare. You know that you’re also not supposed to sleep with the gauze right?


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The purpose of the content at afterva is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not nor was it ever meant to be a substitute for medical advice. Every situation is unique and impossible to diagnose without a clinical exam.

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