If you’re having a tooth extracted, you’ll want to take steps to avoid experiencing dry socket afterward. Dry socket is a very painful condition that can occur in the days following a dental extraction. While it’s treatable, it’s much easier to prevent the problem in the first place.
After a tooth extraction, a blood clot usually forms over the tooth socket to help protect the bone and nerves. In some cases, the clot isn’t formed or is dislodged. The bone and nerve in the extraction area are exposed without a protective blood clot, leading to pain and possible infection.
The following tips will help you avoid dry socket after a tooth extraction:
Don’t Use Tobacco
Smoking creates suction, which can loosen the blood clot. Smoking, as well as using chewing tobacco, also slows healing. Be honest with your dentist about your tobacco use. Ask about nicotine patches if you plan to keep using tobacco after your tooth extraction.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
You will need to be extra careful while eating and drinking for several days after your extraction. To minimize your chances of developing a dry socket:
- Don’t drink through a straw, which could dislodge the clot.
- Avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods, and stick to soft foods instead.
- Don’t chew on the side of your extraction.
Avoid alcohol or mouthwash containing alcohol for at least 24 hours since they can delay healing and make it more likely for the clot to become dislodged.
Practice Gentle Oral Hygiene
Don’t rinse your mouth vigorously and be gentle when brushing your teeth and tongue. Avoid brushing near the extraction site for at least 24 hours.
Get Some Rest
After a tooth extraction, you should avoid strenuous physical activity and do your best to rest during the first 24 hours. This brief time of rest reduces bleeding and helps the blood clot form.
Tell Your Dentist About Your Medications
Certain birth control pills can make you more prone dry socket, so your dentist may recommend scheduling your extraction when you’re getting your lowest dose of estrogen. Other medications can interfere with your body’s ability to form a blood clot, so let your dentist know about any prescriptions you take.
Attend Your Follow-Up Visits
Follow-up appointments allow your dentist to make sure the extraction site is healing as it should. It is important to attend these visits to allow your dentist to address any problems as soon as possible.
Keep in Touch With Your Dentist
It’s important to notify your dentist immediately if you have signs of dry socket. Signs of dry socket include persistent pain that isn’t relieved by over-the-counter pain medication. You may also be able to see a dry socket with a missing or partially missing blood clot or if you are able to see bone. If you have dry socket, your dentist may treat it by rinsing out the socket, applying medication, and prescribing pain medicine.
You Can Avoid Dry Socket
Although dry socket is treatable, your healing process after a tooth extraction will be much more comfortable if you can avoid this issue. Putting these tips into practice will help lower your risk of getting dry socket. This allows your extraction site to heal as quickly, comfortably, and easily as possible.