How to Avoid Dry Socket After a Tooth Extraction
If you had to have an emergency tooth extraction, or if you are recovering from wisdom tooth removal, you may be at risk for developing dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis.
When you have a tooth removed, a blot clot should form over the wound and protect the socket while you heal. If the blood clot comes off, you will get dry socket.
A dry socket is painful for you and problematic for the healing process.
What is Dry Socket?
When a blood clot doesn’t form over the socket after a tooth extraction, or if the clot breaks, the raw bone and nerves are exposed to air, food, and bacteria.
When this happens, the patient develops a condition known as dry socket. Without a blood clot in place to protect the wound, it is very easy for the socket to become infected. The exposed nerve causes the patient to experience pain.
How Is This Condition Treated?
If the socket becomes exposed after your surgery, you will have to go back to the dentist to have it cleaned and dressed every few days.
They may give you pain medication and antibiotics to help ease the pain and prevent infection. If the wound is extremely painful, they may apply local anesthesia to the area.
How to Avoid Alveolar Osteitis
Dry socket isn’t always avoidable, but there are steps you can take to prevent it from occurring.
1. Stick to a Soft Foods Diet
Soft foods like applesauce and mashed potatoes are safer and easier to eat while you are healing from tooth extraction surgery. Avoid hard, crunchy, and sticky foods to prevent particles from getting stuck in the clot or dislodging it.
2. Brushing and Flossing
Keeping your teeth clean after surgery will prevent the socket from becoming infected. You should talk to your dentist about how to best care for your oral health after the tooth extraction procedure.
You may be advised to only rinse your mouth the first day after surgery and then continue with gentle brushing while the wound heals.
3. Skip the Cigarettes and Tobacco
Smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco after surgery is directly correlated with an increased risk of developing alveolar osteitis.
If you know you are going to have tooth extraction surgery, you should cut down on tobacco use in the weeks prior. Nicotine patches can help ease cravings while you are healing from surgery.
Similar to sucking through a straw, drawing in air to smoke can cause the blood clot to become dislodged, so all types of smoking and vaping should be avoided while you heal.
4. Stay Away From Straws
Sucking on a straw is a surefire way to dislodge your blood clot and end up with an infected socket. Skip the straws for at least a week after your tooth extraction.
When to Call a Dentist for Exposed Socket Symptoms
Even if you take all the precautions to avoid this condition, you may experience alveolar osteitis if a blood clot fails to form after surgery. If you experience pain, swelling, pus, or bad breath after your surgery, don’t hesitate to call your dentist right away.