Tooth Extractions and Tea Bags

A tea bag with a red tag and a white background

Is it a folklore remedy regarding the use of tea bags to help blood clot after tooth removal? Being the ever curious and scientifically minded person, I decided to see if using a tea bag helped my blood to clot. I am NOT a doctor, I am NOT giving medical advice and I am NOT suggesting a specific dental care routine. I am merely reporting my experience regarding tooth extraction and tea. 

Let’s Get This Over With ASAP!

An illustration of a molar within a star callout

A wisdom tooth of mine needed to be removed as soon as possible. I did not get my wisdom teeth removed as a teenager and now I am suffering the consequences.

I showed up for the appointment first thing in the morning. My attitude was to get this over with as soon as possible. I will spare everyone the details of the tooth removal. Suffice it to say, the tooth was extracted, I was sent home with a care package and told to use a moistened black tea bag to help stop the bleeding and to help the blood to clot.

A Cold Tea Bag Can Be Comforting

5 pyramid tea bags hanging from a shelf, shown against a green wall

I found it interesting that my oral surgeon suggested that I use a tea bag to help control the bleeding. He said that the tannins in the black tea would help the blood clot. I had tried the gauze that was given to me and it was not a pleasant experience, nor a pleasant taste. I decided to conduct a science experiment on myself utilizing a black tea bag to see if it did help stop the bleeding at the extraction site.

I vacantly stared at the offerings of tea bags that I had at my house (I was still groggy from the anesthesia that was used). I found several tea bags that I thought would work well for my science experiment. I moistened a tea bag with large black tea leaf pieces in it. It was a little difficult to form the tea bag into the back part of my mouth where my tooth had been extracted. I found a CTC (cut-tear-curl) black tea in my tea cupboard and decided that the smaller leaf would be easier for me to use in the back part of my mouth. I scooped some tea into a disposable, self sealing, unbleached tea bag. I moistened the tea bag with cold water, and then placed it in the back of my mouth, where my tooth used to be. I kept the tea bag in my mouth for approximatly 10 minutes and then removed the tea bag. To my surprise, my extraction site had stopped bleeding.

A Coincidence?

A small boy with curly hair and a big smile, wearing an orange t-shirt

Was it a coincidence or was there any science to the claim that a tea bag with black tea can stop mouth bleeding? A prominent toothpaste company explained on their website that a tea bag can possibly help blood to clot, post tooth extraction.

All across the internet, studies have referenced tea bags and dental surgery. I am interested in the copious amounts of research devoted to this very topic and the number of dentists, oral surgeons and companies that suggest a tea bag may, or could possibly, aid in blood clotting after tooth extraction. Referencing the tannins in tea bags and post oral surgery care does not replace, negate or disregard the care of a physician, dentist, or oral surgeon. I will leave it to you, the reader, to disseminate the information and consult with your medical practitioners regarding tea bags and post tooth extraction.

Tannins, Not Tannic Acid!

An illustration of a smiling mouth, with white teeth and red lipstick

In referring to tea bags and post tooth extraction, differentiation needs to be made between tannins and tannic acid. The two are similar but different. For example, a blue 4-door Honda sedan car is not exactly the same as a blue 4-door Hyundai sedan car. They are very similar and upon quick visual inspection, it would be extremely easy to mentally morph the two cars into one homogenous type of car. However, that would be incorrect to do. The two cars are not exactly the same. One is not any better than the other; they are just different. The same holds true for tannins and tannic acid. They are not chemically interchangeable and are therefore not exactly the same chemical.

Tannins are a part of the polyphenol group. They are a form of antioxidants, and are found in plant matter. They dissolve in water. Tannins are further broken down into two subgroups. One group of tannins are called hydrolyzable tannins and the other group of tannins are called condensed tannins. 

Hydrolyzable tannins are what is referred to as tannic acid. The acidity of this tannin is very low, has a low astringency, and the chemical bonds are easily broken in water. Tannic acid is often found in tree bark and wood alongside various plants. Tannic acid is frequently used to tan leather.

The other form of tannins are called non-hydrolyzable tannins, or condensed tannins. This form of tannin is found in tea, as well as grape seeds, grape skins and pomegranates. It is this form of tannin that has a higher astringency, is more acidic, and may have more possible antibacterial and blood clotting properties than tannic acid.

All Things Are Not Equal

In my conjecture, a tea bag containing black tea aided in stopping my bleeding from my oral tooth extraction site. While I am not, and will not make any health claims; I do, however, separate and draw a definite demarcation line between tannic acid and tannins. The two are not interchangeable.

Keep on steeping,

Leslie

About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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