If you’ve ever had a tooth pulled, the dentist probably suggested you apply a tea bag to the extraction site to stem the bleeding. You might wonder: what do tea bags have to do with pulled teeth?
Why the tea bag? Tea bags are a natural way to stop bleeding after dental surgery. This is why they work:
- Black tea is full of tannins, which are hemostatic (i.e. they cause blood to coagulate, which in turn makes the bleeding stop).
- Tannins are also astringent. An astringent is something that causes body tissues, including blood vessels, to shrink or constrict. It’s because of tannins that your mouth might feel puckered after drinking black tea or red wine.
- In addition, tannis are mildly antiseptic, which means that they kill bacteria and might help prevent the extraction site from becoming infected.
- Finally, the tea bag itself acts as a wound dressing that absorbs blood while protecting the affected area.
So what’s the downside? The same tannins that help stop bleeding can also stain your teeth. If you want to get the benefits of black tea by drinking it, you should also drink plenty of water, and you should brush and floss afterwards.
Sounds great. How can I do this at home? To use a tea bag to stop bleeding after the extraction of a tooth (including your wisdom teeth), do the following:
- Steep a tea bag in boiling water for two or three minutes. Note: it must be a black tea bag, as other kinds of tea don’t have as much tannin as black tea.
- Remove the tea bag and allow it to cool.
- Place the cooled tea bag on the affected area.
- Keep it there for about five minutes.
Of course, if you have excessive bleeding, you should seek immediate medical attention. Happy steeping!
- “Dental Health and Wisdom Teeth.” WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/wisdom-teeth?page=2
- William Hale-White. Materia Medica, Pharmacy, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics
- Steele SK. “Controlling gingival bleeding with tea bags.” Oncol Nurs Forum. 1992 May;19(4):663. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1603679