How to Prevent Dry Sockets

How to Prevent Dry Sockets

Getting a tooth removed is a fairly straightforward procedure. One of the most important parts of the process is helping your mouth to heal afterward.

In most cases, everything proceeds normally, but in 2%-5% of cases, a complication called dry socket occurs. After your tooth is removed, a blood clot forms in the hole where your tooth was (the socket) to protect the bone and nerves that are now exposed.

If this clot is dislodged, the bone and nerves are exposed to the air and the food that enters your mouth. This is a painful condition, so you want to do everything you can to avoid it. Here are a few tips on how to do that, courtesy of Dr. Brian LaBombard at Airport Dental Care.

Don’t use a straw

One of the biggest dry socket culprits is the suction of air and the mouth motion that occur when you use a straw. These can easily cause the blood clot to become dislodged. You should avoid using a straw for at least a week after your procedure.

Eat soft foods

Stick with soft foods for the first day or two after your tooth is removed. Stock up on items such as mashed potatoes, applesauce, yogurt, and ice cream. Avoid soup, which requires a sucking motion, and hard, crunchy foods that require a lot of chewing.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco

You should avoid smoking for at least a couple of days after your procedure as well. The sucking motion can dislodge the clot, plus tobacco can disrupt the healing process. 

To prepare for this, try to lessen your tobacco intake in the weeks leading up to the procedure. Nicotine patches (but not nicotine gum) may help you get through this period, or this may even be a good time to try to stop smoking.

Practice good oral hygiene

Keep your mouth clean after the tooth removal to prevent germs and infection from breaking down the blood clot. 

Check with your dentist on when you should resume brushing your teeth after your procedure; they may have you just rinse your mouth the first day and then gently brush the second day. An antibacterial mouthwash may also help.

If you do develop dry socket, symptoms include a throbbing, steady pain a few days after your tooth is removed. You may also feel pain when you drink cold water or if the air is cold. 

Tissue regrows over the bone in a week to 10 days. In the meantime, your dentist can gently irrigate the socket and apply a medicated dressing to relieve your pain.

The team at Airport Dental Care is happy to help with all your dental needs, including tooth extraction. Just call our office in Austin, Texas, or use our online booking form to schedule your appointment.

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