Dry socket can happen after having a tooth extraction. When you have a tooth removed, a blood clot forms at the extraction site to help heal and protect the underlying bone and nerves. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot doesn’t develop or gets dislodged.
Without a protective layer, food, bacteria, and other contaminants can enter your socket and cause an infection.
Dry socket is extremely painful and can make recovery difficult. That’s why our team at Wedgewood Dental created these tips to help you prevent dry socket.
Although dry socket only impacts around two to five percent of patients, you have a higher chance of developing one if you:
- Smoke or consume tobacco products
- Have a preexisting tooth or gum infections
- Don’t follow recovery guidelines
- Have poor oral hygiene
- Take birth control pills
- Have a history of dry socket
Traumatic surgeries, like extracting impacted wisdom teeth, also increase your risk of dry socket. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced oral surgeon, like Dr. Linda Westmoreland, perform your surgery to limit your risk of developing dry socket.
Preventing dry socket
Fortunately, there are steps you can take before and after oral surgery to ensure proper healing and prevent dry socket.
Avoid smoking and tobacco use
If you're a smoker, don’t smoke the first week after your extraction. The act of inhaling when smoking a cigarette can dislodge your blood clot because of the sudden, quick burst of air.
Don’t use any other tobacco products either. The chemicals found in tobacco can decrease the blood supply to your mouth, which slows healing and can cause an infection.
Do not drink through a straw
Try not to drink from a straw for at least one week after your extraction. The sucking action can remove your blood clot.
After your tooth extraction, don’t expect to do much else other than rest. This is critical to ensure your socket has time to properly heal.
Avoid any kind of rigorous physical activity for however long Dr. Westmoreland recommends. The impact and rapid breathing from sports and working out can hurt your mouth and dislodge the clot from your socket.
Only drink water
Make sure you drink water and avoid any beverages that are hot or acidic. Hot drinks, like tea or coffee, can dissolve your blood clot and lead to pain because your nerve endings are exposed. Acidic drinks such as soda can also dissolve your clot.
Eat soft foods
While you’re recovering from your tooth extraction, stick to a diet of only soft foods, like applesauce, yogurt, and scrambled eggs.
Avoid eating foods like seeds, almonds, or anything that can get stuck in your socket. If food gets trapped in your extraction site, bacteria can build up and cause an infection.
Clean your mouth
It’s important to clean your mouth and maintain good oral hygiene after your surgery. Doing so keeps your mouth and socket clean and free of bacteria.
When cleaning your mouth, gently rinse with water and avoid vigorous swishing as it can dislodge the clot.
To learn more about dry socket and other ways to prevent it, give Wedgewood Dental a call or schedule an appointment if you have any dental concerns.