Each year, 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted from 5 million people in the United States, according to research from the National Institutes of Health. Are you set to be one of these 5 million in 2020? If so, you should know that the days following wisdom teeth extractions are a critical period for the healing process. If you do not take certain precautions, you may end up with an uncomfortable case of dry socket. Want to know how to prevent dry socket? Follow the 5 tips below after oral surgery to prevent painful complications.
What Is Dry Socket?
Known medically as alveolar osteitis, dry socket is a painful condition that can occur when the body’s natural healing process following a tooth extraction breaks down or is interrupted.
Following oral surgery, a blood clot typically forms and acts an important layer of protection for the underlying bones and nerve endings while the socket heals. However, sometimes the blood clot can dissolve or become dislodged. When this happens, the extraction site is left exposed and the healing process is delayed.
Dry socket is a painful complication and typically requires professional dental treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?
Do not hesitate to contact your dentist or oral surgeon if you experience any of the following dry socket symptoms in the days following oral surgery:
- Severe pain within a few days of having your wisdom teeth removed
- Visible bone in the socket, which means the blood clot has likely been lost
- Throbbing pain that can spread to your ear, eye, temple or neck
- Persistent bad breath
- Unpleasant taste that lingers in your mouth
5 Tips to Prevent Dry Socket
Following these 5 tips after wisdom teeth extractions can help reduce the chances of experiencing dry socket:
- #1: Avoid straws – Steer clear of drinking with straws for at least a week after a tooth extraction. The suction movement of drinking with a straw can dislodge your blood clot.
- #2: Avoid certain foods – Choose soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, or applesauce immediately following oral surgery. Avoid small or crumbly foods that can get stuck in the socket, such as nuts, seeds, chips and sticky candies.
- #3: Avoid tobacco – Smoking tobacco – or even vaping – can increase your risk of developing dry socket.
- #4: Share your medical information – Certain medications thin the blood and therefore may prevent a blood clot from forming. Be sure to keep your dentist up to date with whatever medications you are currently taking.
- #5: Practice good oral hygiene – Germs and oral infections may attack and break down a blood clot. Ask your dentist for specific tips on how to keep your mouth clean following an extraction surgery.
If your blood clot happens to dissolve or dislodge after oral surgery, do not hesitate to contact a dentist right away. Seeking timely professional help will ensure the problem is stopped before it becomes a major pain.
About the Author
After serving his country in the United States Navy, Dr. Jeff Lee and his family settled down in the Muskingum Valley, where the talented oral surgeon provides quality dental care to the community. The proud Ohio State University graduate remains a part-time faculty member in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department of the school’s College of Dentistry. For more oral surgery aftercare tips, visit Dr. Lee’s website or call 740-432-8768.