Dry socket is the day-to-day term for alveolar osteitis, characterized by inflammation of an empty tooth socket. This complication occurs most often following a tooth extraction.
In the following article, we go over the causes of dry socket and how a person can prevent it. Additionally, we cover how to care for the mouth after tooth extraction and when to see Dr. Phillips or Dr. McDonough.
A dry socket may develop after a tooth extraction if the blood clot covering the tooth socket becomes dislodged. Shortly after a tooth extraction, a blood clot forms over the tooth socket. This blood clot is important, as it is a normal part of the healing process and protects the nerve endings in the bone. Certain behaviors could cause the blood clot to fail to form or become dislodged. This may lead to the bone and nerves in the socket becoming exposed. What this amounts to is delayed healing, an exposed nerve, and a lot of pain! Dry socket is more common in wisdom tooth extraction but is possible after any tooth has been removed. Read on to learn how you can avoid this painful condition!
Preventing Dry socket
It’s important to avoid doing anything that could disturb the blood clot once the tooth extraction is complete.
Avoid the following to prevent dry socket:
- Suction: Smoking and drinking through a straw cause suction. This could loosen the clot and delay healing and should be avoided.
- Smoking: Smoking delays healing and can also increase blood pressure, which can lead to more bleeding. Smoking is the most common offender in dry socket.
- Over-rinsing: Rinsing is important after extraction, but take care to do so gently to avoid disturbing the clot
- Alcohol: Be sure to avoid alcoholic beverages as well as mouthwash that contains alcohol for up to 24 hours to reduce the likelihood of the clot becoming dislodged. Alcohol is a powerful acidic and can encourage extra bleeding and might delay healing.
- Physical activity: Try to avoid any major physical activity for the first 24 hours after the extraction to cut down on bleeding and encourage blood clot formation.
Be sure and let Dr. Phillips or Dr. McGonough know of any medications. Particularly, birth control has been linked to dry socket, according to this study.
After your extraction
Be sure to follow Dr. Phillip’s and Dr. McGonough’s instructions following extraction on caring for the care of the extraction site. This will ensure you have the best possible outcome. Be sure and let us know if you have any questions. Some general instructions include the following:
- No spitting or straws for 24 hours following a tooth extraction.
- Try not to chew on the side of the mouth near the extraction site to minimize the chance of dislodging the blood clot.
- No smoking smoke for at least 48 hours after an extraction.
- You should favor soft foods rather than hard or crunchy foods in order to reduce the risk of causing damage to the socket and getting food stuck in it.
- Avoid carbonated or hot drinks, as both of these, may cause displacement of the blood clot from the socket.
Cleaning your mouth after extraction.
The ADA recommends that you avoid any cleaning of the teeth surrounding the extraction site for the day. However, it’s important to brush and floss the rest of the mouth normally for good hygiene. Begin to clean next to the site the following day. A warm salt water rinse used after eating and at intervals will both serve as an effective cleaning tool as well as prevent any additional discomfort. This can be prepared by mixing half a teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water. They should also gently rinse their mouth with warm salt water after eating. People can make salt water by stirring half a teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water. This should be avoided in the event that you suffer from high blood pressure. In that case, try using simple warm water instead.
Call for more answers!
To sum up, dry socket is a painful condition that is unfortunately fairly common after wisdom tooth extraction. However, some commonsense tips can be followed to avoid it. Most importantly, NO SMOKING! Cleanup should be done carefully, avoiding the extraction site for the first 24 hours, after which a warm saltwater rinse can work wonders.
Here at the Northeast Arkansas Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we know you want to do everything you can to have a winning, healthy smile, and that includes avoiding dry socket! Give us a call with any questions or concerns, and we can put you on the right path to the best smile of your life. See you soon!