Using Orajel After Tooth Extraction: Yea Or Nay?

Written, Edited, and Reviewed by Dr David Chen.

It’s not recommended to use Orajel after a tooth extraction because it can create undesirable side effects that delay healing. If you’re having pain after having a tooth removed, there are better alternatives which don’t hamper your recovery.

orajel 4x cream

Can I use orajel after tooth extraction?

It’s not that you can’t use orajel after the extraction because it is an oral analgesic. If the tooth socket hurts from the surgery, it can help alleviate some of the discomfort.

After all, the primary numbing agent in it is 20% benzocaine which is the same exact ingredient as the numbing gel that your dentist uses. If they can use it, there is no reason why you can’t as well.

sensicaine benzocaine

However, you should be aware that using a numbing cream isn’t a part of the standard extraction aftercare protocol. It is also not a part of the treatment modality for dry sockets either. From the dental community’s perspective it is not necessary and we can think of a couple of reasons as to why that is so.

Side effects from using it

Using orajel after tooth removal can potentially disturb the blood clot and also delay healing. These unintended consequences may not be life threatening but they will prolong the time it takes for the tooth extraction socket to close.

Blood clot disturbance

Immediately after the tooth removal, the socket will be bleeding profusely and your main priority is to achieve hemostasis. Getting it to stop bleeding involves biting down on gauze for at least 2-3 hours.

unfolded piece of gauze
Unfolded gauze

Gauze biting should be the only thing that you’re doing. You shouldn’t be doing anything else and that includes fiddling with the socket such as putting numbing gel into it. If you’re opening your mouth to apply orajel, all that you’re doing is simply delaying the formation of the blood clot.

Aside from that, it isn’t really practical to do this because your mouth is probably full of blood and saliva. How can you even see anything? You might as well just leave it alone.

Delayed socket healing

The tooth socket will naturally heal on its own and there isn’t much that you can do to speed it up. However, there are quite a few things which you can do that can DELAY it’s healing.

If you’re constantly playing around with the socket and placing foreign substances into the socket, it will interfere with the body’s healing process

Think about it, your body is trying to close the hole but you’re putting stuff into it. Your body can’t close it until it gets rid of whatever you put in it. Essentially you’ll be spending energy on clearing out the socket instead of growing gums to close it.

The key point we wish to emphasize here is to keep the tooth extraction hole as clean as possible.

  • When it’s impeccably clean, that is when the hole will close up the fastest.
  • When it’s not clean, that is when healing is delayed.

It is this cleanliness principle that your dentist advises you to rinse with salt water vigorously after each meal. It prevents food from getting stuck in the hole and helps to keep it clean. It may take as long as 1-2 weeks before you can stop worrying about food getting stuck in the socket.

Alternatives for post-extraction pain relief

The best way to manage pain after having a tooth extracted is to follow the aftercare protocol, which should include pain management.

Pain management guidelines:

  • Take prescribed medications. Definitely follow the pain medication schedule and also remember to take your antibiotics IF you were given them.
  • Rinse with salt water. Salt water rinsing is the most overlooked but yet the most important aftercare step that minimizes healing delay. It keeps the socket clean and prevents food from becoming lodged in there. Salt is also antiseptic which helps to reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Cold compress. Alternating 15 mins on and 15 mins off can help numb the area with cold. The pressure will help reduce facial swelling as well.
  • Avoid chewing on that side. The affected side will be tender to chew on which is why we advocate using the opposite side more while it heals. You can slowly reintroduce harder foods as the days go by.
  • Avoid irritating foods. Definitely minimize the spicy, sour, and acidic foods because they can irritate the hole and slow down healing.

When will the pain improve?

Typically, the pain after an extraction should begin to improve after 2-3 days because that is when the pain peaks. Once you pass those days, you should begin the descent of pain.

post-tooth extraction pain distribution - left skewed bell curve

What we’re trying to say is that you just need to push through the first 2-3 days and after that you should be in the clear.

However, if you’re experiencing increasing levels of pain after 3-4 days, you may have a complication. There is a good chance it may be infected or you’ve developed a dry socket. In that case, you need to contact your dentist right away.


It is preferred if you do not use orajel after an extraction because having the gel in the socket can delay the closure of the hole. It interferes with your body trying to heal and recover since it is a foreign substance and does not aid in wound closure.

It is best to stick with the pain management protocol that your dentist gave you. The most important one to ensure a speedy recovery is to actually keep the socket clean by rinsing with salt water. It prevents food from getting stuck and reduces inflammation.

Overall, you should expect to have an improvement after 2-3 days but if it doesn’t, you may have a complication.


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Our purpose at afterva, is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. Each situation is unique and that makes it impossible to diagnose and treat without a clinical exam.

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