Dry socket is a dental condition that is associated with tooth removal. It is one of the most painful oral issues, but one that can also be avoided with proper care. If you are scheduled to have your wisdom teeth or other tooth extracted, it is important that you learn about dry socket first.
What is Dry Socket?
If dry socket develops, it typically does so in the first few days after your oral surgery. A sudden increase in your pain can be a telltale sign. The worsening pain is an indication that the blood clot that naturally forms in the empty tooth socket has dissolved, become dislodged or not formed at all. Since we need that blood clot to protect the exposed bone and nerves, the condition of dry socket can be especially painful to deal with. Fortunately, dry socket is both preventable and treatable, but some upfront knowledge is key.
Ways to Prevent Dry Socket
For the first several days after your tooth extraction, you should adhere to the following instructions to protect yourself from dry socket:
#1 Don’t use straws
You’ll be told to drink plenty of liquids but NOT drink from a straw. The suction movement of air using your cheek muscles can dislodge your blood clot at the extraction site.
#2 Avoid smoking and tobacco
Those who smoke and use tobacco are at significantly greater risk for developing dry socket after tooth extraction. Not only does the quick inhalation of smoking pose a threat to the blood clot, but the chemicals in tobacco can limit healing and contribute to infection.
#3 Follow eating guidelines
Post-operative instructions for eating will be given to you after your oral surgery. It is critical that you follow them. Eating hard or crunchy foods sooner than you are supposed to can damage the blood clot and slow recovery.
#4 Consider medication interactions
Always tell your dentist about the medications you are on. Oral contraceptives and corticosteroids are known for preventing the formation of blood clots.
#5 Practice proper oral hygiene
Keeping your mouth clean is one of the best ways you can promote healing and prevent dry socket after tooth removal, as oral hygiene can fight germs and infection from breaking down the formed blood clot. Don’t assume you can return to normal dental hygiene immediately after your oral surgery. Make sure to follow strict guidelines for cleaning your extraction site each day.
#6 Avoid strenuous activity
Don’t hit the gym after your oral surgery. Now is the time to rest and not get your heart rate up. Exercising too vigorously too soon can cause dry socket.
If you suspect that you have dry socket or suddenly have intense pain after your tooth extraction procedure, please call our office immediately. At the office of Mitzi Morris, DMD, we do our best to help patients prevent dry socket, but we can also treat it if the condition does develop.