Perhaps you have an incoming wisdom tooth, a tooth with too much decay to save, you have experienced dental trauma, or you request to have a tooth removed for aesthetic purposes. While most patients have no major issues after tooth extraction, a small percentage may develop a condition known as dry socket. We describe recognizing, treating, and preventing dry socket below.
Understanding Dry Socket
When Dr. Robles-Velez or Dr. Velez extracts your tooth, it initiates a natural response in your body to form a blood clot. This protects nerves and bones exposed during the procedure. Any disturbance to the blood clot can cause significant pain and contamination due to bacterial infiltration. This is where a dry socket can occur.
A dry socket can delay your recovery and leave you with intense mouth and facial pain. Although the team at Advanced Endodontics, Oral and Facial Specialists can apply a new layer of dressing to facilitate better clotting, we always prefer preventing dry socket in the first place.
Tips for Preventing Dry Socket
It’s important to pay close attention to the instructions from your dentist and the support staff before returning home after a tooth extraction. While dry socket can happen to anyone, following your discharge instructions exactly will substantially lower your risk. For example, the foods you choose to eat in the few days following oral surgery can make a big difference in whether you develop a dry socket.
We advise you to only eat soft foods and to chew them on the side of your mouth where you didn’t receive the extraction. When selecting beverages, choose water as often as possible and avoid drinks that contain high levels of alcohol, caffeine, or sugar. Additionally, don’t drink with a straw for a minimum of one week after oral surgery since the force of suction is enough to break up the blood clot. Here are some other tips for avoiding dry socket:
- Don’t clean the extraction site for 24 hours: It’s critical to wait a minimum of 24 hours to clean the extraction site since this gives your body time to form a healthy blood clot. However, you can still gently clean your other teeth. Once 24 hours have passed, you can rinse your mouth with salt water or mouthwash containing antibacterial properties. This helps to eliminate bacteria and germs from the extraction site. Try to avoid abrupt spitting for at least several days.
- Downtime: The initial anesthesia effects can make you feel tired or at least groggy. For this reason, you should plan to rest immediately after returning home from your oral surgery. For the next several days, be sure to elevate your head by using two or more pillows. Although it will probably be uncomfortable to do this, you should also want to avoid putting pressure on the extraction site by placing that side of your mouth against a pillow.
- Recovering from oral surgery also means avoiding any strenuous sport or other physical activity that puts your mouth at risk for at least the first three days. Don’t be surprised if it takes a week to 10 days for you to feel the same way you did before your tooth extraction. Most patients report that they started experiencing significant relief from swelling and discomfort four days after the procedure. Our staff will instruct you on when and how to take acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. You should always contact us if the pain gets worse instead of better or you develop a fever, redness, or pain throughout your face.
- Smoking: If you smoke, plan to quit for at least several days before and after the surgery. Resuming smoking less than 48 hours after a tooth extraction is a big risk for dry socket because it can break the existing blood clot or deposit bacteria on the site. Chewing tobacco can have the same impact.
We understand that you might feel apprehensive about oral surgery and the potential for dry socket. Although complications after tooth extraction are rare, we are available to address your questions or concerns at any time. Contact us today.