Whenever you have a tooth extracted, there’s a risk of developing a dry socket. That’s why Phuong Le, DMD, Uyen Hoang, DMD, and our Le Dentistry & Associates team provide comprehensive aftercare instructions to help you prevent a painful dry socket.
Understanding dry sockets
A dry socket can develop anytime after a tooth extraction, whether it’s your molars or wisdom teeth. After an extraction, a blood clot forms in the extraction site to help your gums heal and to protect the underlying bone and nerves.
Dry socket occurs when the blood clot doesn’t develop properly or becomes dislodged. Without the protective layer of the clot, the empty socket is at increased risk of food particles and bacteria getting in. This debris can ultimately lead to an infection.
When you develop dry socket, it can be extremely painful. The condition is also considered a dental emergency because it interferes with your recovery from a tooth extraction. For this reason, our team recommends that you follow your aftercare instructions carefully.
Factors that can increase your dry socket risk
Not everyone gets a dry socket, but you’re more likely to develop the condition if you aren’t following recovery guidelines or if you:
- Use birth control pills
- Use tobacco products
- Practice poor oral hygiene
- Have a history of dry sockets
- Have preexisting tooth or gum infections
Traumatic oral surgeries also increase your risk for dry socket. Our team at Le Dentistry & Associates can assess your risk factors for dry socket and help you take extra precautions to prevent infection and pain after surgery.
How you can prevent a dry socket
There are steps you can take before and after your tooth extraction surgery to ensure you heal fully and avoid complications, including dry socket. Our team recommends:
Avoid using straws
You shouldn’t use a straw for at least one week after your extraction because the sucking action can dislodge your blood clot.
Get your rest
Following a tooth extraction, it’s important that you take time to rest and avoid strenuous activities to give your gums an opportunity to heal. The impact of heavy lifting or working out can hurt your extraction site and dislodge the clot from your socket.
Pay attention to your diet
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and avoid beverages that are hot or acidic, which can dissolve the blood clot and lead to an infection. Hot or cold beverages can also cause pain when they touch the exposed nerve endings in your gums.
You also need to stick to a soft food diet for a few days after your surgery to prevent injuries to your gums.
Practice good oral care
Following an extraction, it’s important that you rinse your mouth frequently to keep the socket clean and free of bacteria. You might also need to switch to a soft toothbrush for the first week after an extraction to prevent injury to your gums.
Besides the general health benefits of quitting smoking, you can also heal faster from your extraction surgery if you quit using tobacco products.
Inhaling smoke can dislodge the blood clot in your socket. Tobacco products also contain chemicals that can interfere with the blood supply in your gums, slowing your healing process and increasing your risk for infection.
If you’re planning to have a tooth extraction or need your wisdom teeth removed, discuss your options for preventing dry sockets with our team at Le Dentistry & Associates. Call the office or schedule an appointment online today.