The 101 On Preventing And Treating A Dry Socket After Removing Wisdom Teeth
Proper oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist will prevent serious dental complications. Unfortunately, even with proper care, your wisdom teeth will develop, causing pain, overcrowding, and other problems in your mouth. Problematic wisdom teeth are common between the ages of 17 and 25, so the discomfort you will feel will most likely lead to an extraction. The removal of your wisdom teeth may be a common procedure, but it can lead to a dry socket if you are not careful.
The Development of a Dry Socket
A dry socket occurs after the removal of one or more teeth. After your dentist makes an incision to removes the tooth and sutures the incision, a clot will form over the extraction site. This blood clot prevents food and bacteria from affecting the underlying nerves of the extracted wisdom tooth. If the blood clot becomes loose or dislodges, air, food, and bacteria will set in, resulting in a pain and possible infections. Known as a dry socket, this painful condition can be prevented and treated.
Preventing the Dreaded Dry Socket
Since most people develop a dry socket within 3 to 4 days after a wisdom tooth extraction, the first few days of recovery are crucial for prevention. Here are a few tips to prevent the dreaded dry socket:
- Relax – Be sure to get sufficient rest and relaxation after your procedure. Avoid strenuous activity the first few days after, but you can resume normal activities the day after your wisdom tooth removal. Rigorous activity may dislodge your blood clot, increasing your dry socket risk.
- Apply Pressure – Your dentist will apply medicated gauze to your incision to apply pressure after the extraction. Make sure the gauze stays in place for a few hours after the procedure. At home, be sure to change this gauze periodically. After changing, bite down gently to apply pressure. This will ensure the clot forms securely.
- Eat and Drink – Only eat soft foods the day of your extraction. Soup, scrambled eggs, and gelatin are great options. Each day, add more foods to your diet. Do not use a straw when drinking, since the suction motion can easily dislodge the blood clot.
- Quit the Habits – Do not smoke cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigs after the removal of your wisdom teeth. Also, avoid chewing tobacco. These habits will damage, loosen, or dislodge the clot over the incision site.
- Brush and Rinse – Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush only when brushing your teeth. Harder bristles may cause discomfort over your swollen, inflamed gums while also loosening the blood clot. Rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash, as well, to kill bacteria and reduce your risk of an infection.
Following these simple tips will protect the blood clot over the extraction site. However, if you are experiencing a throbbing pain during your recovery time, contact your dentist immediately for treatment.
Treating the Dry Socket
A constant throbbing pain in the jaw, mouth, and head is a common sign of a dry socket. While this pain does not always mean you will develop an infection, your dentist will still need to examine the incision site.
In most cases, your dentist will first flush out the tooth socket with an antibacterial rinse. After flushing out food and bacteria, a new set of medicated gauze will be placed over the incision site in hopes of forming a blood clot. Be sure to bite down gently, applying the pressure necessary to start the clotting process.
If you have pain and a light fever, oral antibiotics will be necessary to heal the infection, but managing the pain will require an anti-inflammatory medication.
Wisdom tooth removal is a common procedure, but improper recovery and care may cause you to develop a painful dry socket. By using this guide, you can prevent and treat the dreaded dry socket after your extraction. For more information, contact an experienced dentist like Dale D. Lentz DDS.