After your child has had a tooth taken out

This page explains what to do and what to avoid after your child has had a tooth taken out at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Do not rinse your child’s mouth for 12 hours afterwards – this will let the socket (where the tooth was) start to heal.

The day afterwards, rinse your child’s mouth with warm salty water after every meal, and continue for the next five to seven days. 

You can make up the mouth rinse as follows:

  • fill a cup with hot water and dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in it
  • allow the water to cool down enough so it will not burn your child’s mouth
  • your child should take a mouthful of water and hold it over the socket until it cools, then spit the water out and repeat until the cup is empty

If your child is too young, you can use some gauze soaked in the warm salt solution to wipe gently around his or her mouth.

Brushing your child’s teeth

Your child can start brushing his or her teeth again gently the day afterwards. This helps the socket to heal and prevents infection.

If the socket starts to bleed

  • your child should rinse his or her mouth once to remove any blood clot
  • roll up a piece of clean, dry cloth, handkerchief or gauze and dampen it with water
  • put this over the socket and encourage your child to bite hard on it for 15 to 20 minutes

Do not use tissues or cotton wool as they fall apart when wet and can leave bits in your child’s mouth, which is unpleasant and can start an infection.

Things to avoid

Over the next few days, while the socket is healing, it is important to prevent it bleeding. This can make the socket take longer to heal.

  • your child should not play sport or do anything else very energetic for 24 hours
  • try to discourage your child from fiddling with the socket – this includes poking it with fingers or anything else, and trying to feel it with his or her tongue
  • your child will probably need to avoid hard foods for the first day or so, but after that, he or she should eat normal foods
  • your child should avoid hot drinks or food for a few days


  • your child may be given a course of antibiotics. Follow the instructions and make sure he or she takes the complete course
  • your child may need to have regular pain relief for at least three days. Regular pain relief like paracetamol will usually be enough, but remember to follow the instructions on the bottle or packet
  • as well as the medications, distracting your child by playing games, watching TV or reading together can also help to keep your child’s mind off any pain

You should call the Dental department if:

  • the socket continues to bleed
  • your child is in pain and pain relief does not seem to help
  • your child develops a rash or any other reaction to the antibiotics

However, swelling around the socket is normal and usually lasts seven to ten days.

Compiled by: 
The Dental Department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.
Last review date: 
February 2017


Please note this is a generic GOSH information sheet. If you have specific questions about how this relates to your child, please ask your doctor. Please note this information may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.