While it is rarely planned or desirable to have a permanent tooth removed, sometimes it is necessary. Tooth extractions may be required in situations when your tooth is too damaged or diseased to be repaired. It can also be recommended for orthodontic reasons or when the wisdom teeth are impacted.
In most cases, tooth extraction is a straightforward procedure that shouldn’t cause anxiety or stress. With the use of local anesthetics and sedation dentistry, you’ll be kept comfortable throughout the extraction procedure. Your recovery at home should be rather easy as well, but there are risks you should know about, such as dry socket.
What is Dry Socket?
Dry socket is a dental condition that is associated with tooth removal. While it is absolutely preventable with proper care, dry socket can also be one of the most painful oral issues to experience. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot in the empty tooth socket becomes dislodged, dissolves or never forms at all. Since your body naturally produces and needs that blood clot to protect the exposed bone and nerves after tooth removal, it can be quite painful if the clot get disrupted.
After tooth extraction, you need the blood clot to stay intact and in place for several days to allow your underlying tissues and bone to heal. Therefore, dry socket is something that patients need to be mindful of immediately following their procedure. The good news is that dry socket can be prevented by adhering to a few important post-operative instructions.
Ways to Prevent Dry Socket
Avoiding dry socket and maintaining comfort after tooth removal is absolutely possible, but you’ll need to follow these rules:
- 1 Don’t use straws
- Hydrating and drinking plenty of liquids is important for healing, but do NOT drink from a straw. The suction movement can easily dislodge the blood clot at the extraction site and cause dry socket.
- 2 Avoid smoking and tobacco
- If you smoke or use tobacco after your dental extraction, you are at a significantly greater risk for developing dry socket. Not only does the action of quick smoke inhalation pose a threat to the blood clot, but the chemicals in tobacco can also impede healing and foster infection.
- 3 Follow eating guidelines
- This is not the time to “be macho” and prove that you can eat nuts or chips soon after your tooth removal. Doing so can damage the blood clot at the extraction site and slow recovery.
- 4 Consider medication interactions
- Always inform your dentist about the medications you are taking. Oral contraceptives and corticosteroids can prevent the proper formation of blood clots.
- 5 Practice proper oral hygiene
- Keeping your mouth clean can eliminate harmful bacteria and infection. Oral infections can cause several disturbances in your healing process, including the breakdown of blood clots. Follow your dentist’s guidelines for brushing and rinsing.
- 6 Avoid strenuous activity
- Resting your body is important for healing. If you exercise too strenuously and skyrocket your heart rate too soon after extraction, you can dislodge the blood clot and experience dry socket.
Treating Dry Socket
If you suspect that you have dry socket or experience sudden, intense pain in the first week after your tooth extraction procedure, please call Park South Dentistry. We can help patients avoid dry socket, as well as treat this painful condition if it should develop.