What does a blood clot after tooth extraction look like? Preventing dislodgment

Blood clot after tooth extraction
Tooth extraction can be a painful and stressful experience, but a proper healing process is crucial for a speedy recovery. One important aspect of this process is the formation of a blood clot.
In this blog post, we'll explore what a blood clot after tooth extraction looks like, what can cause it to dislodge, and how to prevent this from happening.
clinical images of blood clots after dental extraction

What does a blood clot after tooth extraction look like?

After tooth extraction, your body sets up different mechanisms to stop the bleeding and enhance healing.

The first step is blood clot formation. You may notice a reddish, jelly-like mass of blood in the socket where your tooth was. This is an essential part of the healing process, as the blood clot protects the wound and prevents Dry Socket, a painful condition that can occur when the blood clot is dislodged or fails to form properly.

Initially, you may experience some bleeding after the extraction, but once the blood clot has fully formed (within the first 24 hours), the bleeding should stop.

Moreover, the blood clot plays an important role in tissue repair and healing. It helps in the recruitment of cells needed for the healing process and promotes the growth of new tissue.


The blood clot after tooth extraction is a reddish, jelly-like mass of blood that forms inside the empty socket to stop bleeding and enhance the healing process. It's important not to disturb or dislodge it as this could not only delay healing but also cause intense pain.

When does the blood clot go away?

The blood clot that forms after a tooth extraction will typically last for about two days. After this time, it will gradually be replaced by granulation tissue. It is pale pink in color and contains new tiny blood vessels, immune cells, and collagen. the blood clot turns into granulation tissue after about 3-4 days The granulation tissue fills the socket temporarily while waiting for the bone and gum tissue to regenerate. Over the next few weeks, it will gradually be replaced by bone as part of the healing process.

While the gum tissue generally recovers quickly and returns to its normal state within 2-3 weeks, the formation and maturation of bone can be a long process that may take weeks or even months. This process can vary depending on factors, such as age, immunity, nutrition, and smoking.

What does a dislodged blood clot look like?

If the blood clot becomes dislodged or falls out after a tooth extraction, the socket may be empty and lined with grayish-white bone walls that are extremely sensitive to the slightest touch. This can result in a very painful condition known as dry socket.

dry socket after tooth extraction: clinical images

Symptoms of dry socket may include intense pain that spreads over your jaws. The gums surrounding the socket may be normal or red and swollen. These symptoms can occur immediately after the procedure or often 2 to 3 days later.

While dry socket usually heals on its own without treatment, it's important to contact your dentist as soon as you notice the blood clot has become dislodged. This condition can delay healing, promote food buildup and infection, and be extremely painful (even with painkillers!).

Factors that can dislodge the blood clot:

Many factors can be related to the premature loss of the blood clot and the occurrence of dry socket. These include:

  1. Not following your dentist's advice: It's essential to follow your dentist's post-operative instructions carefully to minimize the risk of dislodging the blood clot. This includes avoiding certain foods and activities that may disrupt the clotting process or put undue stress on the extraction site.

  2. Smoking: Smoking can impair the blood flow to the extraction site, delaying healing and increasing the risk of blood clot loss. According to one study, smokers are 3 times more likely to get dry socket than non-smokers. (1)

  3. Stress: Stress and anxiety can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which can disrupt the blood clotting process and increase the risk of premature blood clot loss. According to one study, there is a significant correlation between psychological stress and dry socket. (2)

Can a dislodged blood clot reform on its own?

Once a blood clot is dislodged, it cannot reform on its own. If left untreated, the body will eventually fill the socket with granulation tissue and begin the process of bone regeneration. However, healing will be much slower and more painful.

The only way to reform the blood clot is to trigger a bleed into the socket, which only your dentist can do.

Your dentist will first numb the area to clean and flush the socket. Then, after starting a bleed, a new clot will form. Finally, your dentist may place gauze containing a pain reliever and antiseptic over the socket to provide relief.

Dry socket before and after treatment (with Iodoform Gauze 5%): Clinical images

How to protect the blood clot after a tooth extraction?

To protect the blood clot and prevent dry socket after a tooth extraction, you need to follow your dentist's or surgeon's postoperative instructions. These instructions include the following:

  • Bite on a gauze pad for at least an hour after the extraction to allow the blood clot to form.

  • Avoid smoking or using tobacco products for at least 48 hours after the procedure, as they can delay healing and dislodge the blood clot.

  • Avoid drinking from a straw or spitting forcefully for the first 24 hours after the extraction, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot.

  • Avoid eating hard or crunchy foods, hot foods, and foods with small seeds or nuts for the first few days after the procedure, as they can irritate the extraction site and dislodge the blood clot.

  • Rinse your mouth gently with warm saltwater solution several times a day starting 24 hours after the procedure to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.

  • Take any prescribed painkillers or antibiotics as directed by your dentist or surgeon.

  • Follow any other specific instructions provided by your dentist or surgeon to ensure proper healing and avoid complications.

  1. Smoking as a Risk Factor for Dry Socket: A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9317683/
  2. Incidence of Dry Socket in Relation to Psychological Stress: A Retrospective Study https://www.iasj.net/iasj/download/980d8f6e0472edd9
  3. Diabetes & Oral Health https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/diabetes
  4. Wound healing of extraction sockets https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/etp.12016
  5. Complications After Dental Treatment https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/mouth-and-dental-disorders/urgent-dental-problems/complications-after-dental-treatment