Following the extraction of a tooth, it’s important for blood clotting to occur at the extraction site to protect the bone and nerve endings. Ideally, this clot should remain in place until you have fully healed and returned to normal.
However, sometimes the blood clot at the extraction site dissolves, dislodges, or was never there in the first place. This leaves the socket exposed to contaminants such as bacteria, which can lead to the development of dry socket, where the blood clot has dissipated before the socket has healed. This condition can be extremely painful.
In this blog from Downey Park Family Dental, we’re telling you everything you need to know about dry socket. To find out what can lead to dry socket, how to prevent it, and what you should do if you have it, read on.
Some pain and swelling after getting a tooth extracted is normal. However, this typically subsides within three days. Pain and swelling that is prolonged further than 3 days and gets more severe is a potential sign that you have dry socket. Look out for the following signs of dry socket:
Avoid Sucking & Spitting - After an extraction, you need to avoid creating suction. This includes avoiding sipping from straws, inhaling smoke, and spitting. The suction can dislodge the blood clot so you should avoid all of these behaviors for one week after extraction.
Avoid Smoking & Tobacco - Besides the negative effect of suction that is created from smoking, it also contains harmful chemicals and limits blood supply to the socket. Smoking will prolong the healing process and increase your risk of developing dry socket by 8% compared to nonsmokers.
Only Eat Soft Foods - Within the first day of oral surgery, you should only eat soft foods and avoid chewing on the side of your mouth with the extraction. Sticky and hard foods can dislodge the blood clot or get stuck in the socket. Make sure you wait until the anesthesia has worn off before eating at all so you don’t accidentally bite your mouth.
Stick to soft, cool foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, jello, or applesauce. In addition to this, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and hot beverages, and caffeine should all be avoided until your dentist gives you the okay. Return to introducing semi-soft foods when you feel comfortable.
Carefully Clean Your Mouth - You can use mouth rinses after extraction but you should do some with caution. Do not swish rinses around in the mouth too aggressively, as doing so can disturb the blood clot.
Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to clean your mouth for the first 24 hours, which may involve simply using a mouth rinse. After 24 hours, you may be able to return to gently brushing and flossing if you avoid the extraction site.
Avoid Strenuous Activity - After getting a tooth removed, you should take it easy and get some rest. Any sort of strenuous physical activity should be avoided for at least 24 hours.
This will help you reduce bleeding and form the blood clot necessary to prevent dry socket. If you received more intense anesthesia, you will also likely be very tired.
The first thing you should do if you suspect you have dry socket is to call your dentist right away. Dry socket can cause debilitating pain, interfere with the healing of the extraction site, cause infection, or lead to other complications.
If you suspect that you have dry socket, contact us at Downey Park Family Dental right away. We will schedule an emergency appointment with Dr. Corey Acree to relieve your pain and clean the socket, or possibly apply medication. Don’t delay seeking treatment or things can get worse.