How to Avoid Dry Socket After an Extraction

No one wants to hear the news that they’ve developed the dreaded dry socket after a tooth extraction. However, it sometimes happens, especially after the removal of wisdom teeth. While dry socket is incredibly rare, only occurring in about 2-5% of people, it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms so you can get treatment in the event it happens to you. 

The best way to prevent dry sockets is by carefully following your extraction aftercare instructions. Smokers, those who take oral contraceptives, and neglect their aftercare are at higher risk of getting dry socket.

What Is Dry Socket?

Dry socket is also known as alveolar osteitis - a painful condition that arises from a blood clot never forming or being dislodged after having a tooth extracted. The formation of a blood clot is crucial to the healing of an extracted tooth because it offers a layer of protection to the bone and nerve endings.

The blood clot is meant to protect the extraction site so new soft tissue and bone can regenerate. The lack of clotting means that the socket which contains nerves is exposed to food particles and bacteria. 

This causes an immense amount of pain, prolongs the healing process, and increases the risk of infection. This usually occurs within a few days after the extraction. 

Tips for Avoiding It

There are many extraction aftercare tips you should be following to encourage blood clotting and prevent dislodging the clots. All forms of suction are a big no-no. This means no smoking, drinking through a straw, spitting, or rinsing your mouth. 

All of these activities can dislodge blood clots and smoking introduces harmful bacteria in the mouth that can prolong healing. You should also be sticking to a soft food diet for the first few days of your recovery. Avoid hard, sticky, and crunchy foods completely. 

Try to chew on the opposite side of your mouth, away from the extraction site. This reduces irritation and reduces the risk of food particles working their way into the socket and dislodging blood clots. 

You should also be practicing good oral hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing but being careful to avoid the extraction site. However, don’t brush or rinse your mouth for the first 24 hours. After the first 24 hours, you can swish around a lukewarm saltwater solution in the mouth twice a day.

What to Do If You Get Dry Socket

You may have dry socket if you have the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain around the extraction site
  • Bad breath
  • No visible blood clot in the socket
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Slight fever
  • Visible bone at the site of the extraction

If you believe you have dry socket, contact us right away. We will clean the socket to remove any food particles or bacteria and pack the socket with a medicated dressing to relieve pain. We may prescribe you additional pain medication if necessary. 

We will remove the dressing after a few days and you can perform self-care at home by rinsing your mouth with a lukewarm saline solution and flushing the socket yourself. You may also want to apply a cold compress to the area. 

Expert Tooth Extractions at Titletown Dental

At Titletown Dental, we provide expert dental care to our patients, whether they need an extraction, are suffering from dry socket, or have an infection. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of dry socket, contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sam Schmidt. We can take a closer look at the socket and relieve your pain to get your healing back on track.

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