Dr. Anu Isaac D.M.D.
Boston University Goldman School of Dentistry
What is dry socket?
Wisdom teeth removal is an experience you may not want to have. If you are going through some discomfort afterward and pain becoming unbearable or intense, then it may be a condition called dry socket or alveolar osteitis. The socket can be realized as a hole in the bone where the tooth has been removed. After a wisdom tooth extraction, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bones and nerves underneath from air, food, fluid, and anything else that enters the mouth. Sometimes that clot can become dislodged after the extraction of the tooth. This can lead to infection and severe pain that can last for 5 or 6 days and might radiate to your ear.
How to Prevent Dry Socket?
Some preventive measures that should help in keeping your extraction site clean and healthy during the recovery process to prevent dry socket:
1) Avoid Straws: Straws create a suction movement of air which may dislodge your blood clot. So, it is advisable not to use them for at least one week after tooth extraction.
2) Avoid Smoking and Tobacco: People who smoke and consume tobacco are most vulnerable to develop a dry socket. A study reveals that smoking or chewing tobacco within 48 hours of surgery can slow down the recovery process and can have painful repercussions. Smoking makes way for bacteria into the extraction site while chewing tobacco disturbs the healing clot. Your dentist may assist you to quit smoking or help you develop a plan to quit smoking. If you are not interested in quitting these habits, then these tips may help in reducing the risk of dry socket:
- Shift to nicotine patch
- Wait for at least 48 hours before resuming smoking and do inhale very gently.
- Avoid nicotine gum and tobacco
3) Soft Food: The first day after your surgery, solely Eat Soft Food like applesauce, yogurt, and mashed potatoes. On the second day, you can try slightly heartier foods however you ought to come back to soft foods if you experience any pain. Avoid soup, which could cause ingestion and that will dislodge the gums. Additionally, avoid nuts, seeds, fresh foods like chips, and sticky foods which could standstill in your socket.
4) Proper Oral Hygiene: A clean mouth is one of the most important ways to prevent dry socket. It helps in prevention germs and infection from breaking down the blood clot. Consult your dentist about an apt way of brushing in the initial phase. They might suggest rinsing your mouth the first day and then very gently the second day. There is a possibility that they may prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash to use after surgery. Use gauze pads only after consultation with your doctor.
5) Rest Well: After painful extraction of wisdom teeth, proper rest is required. You will probably need some time for anesthesia to wear off and you may feel exhausted or tired. Avoid physical activities that could disturb your mouth figure and damage blood clot. If the pain worsens, radiates through your face, or is accompanied by swelling, redness, and fever then consult your dentist.
Dry socket is treatable. Your doctor may rinse out the socket, apply medication, and prescribe medicines. Wisdom teeth extraction can be nerve-wracking but if you follow your dentist’s instructions, your recovery should be easy.
Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. Dr. Isaac strives for quality on a daily basis and this commitment to quality is reflected in her constant pursuit of advanced training. Her firm belief that even experts need to stay updated about what’s new in the dental field, enables her to provide every patient with optimal oral care. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.