When you have a tooth removed, your body forms a blood clot over the empty socket as part of its natural healing process. Although this clot should stay in place, there is always a slight risk that the clot could become dislodged. When this happens, you experience a painful complication called “dry socket,” which requires immediate attention from your dentist. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid this situation. If you’re about to have a tooth extracted, use these tips.
Don’t Use Straws
When you drink through a straw, your mouth creates suction that pulls water through the tube. The suction produced by the straw can dislodge the clot that has formed around your tooth extraction site and cause you to develop dry socket. It is advisable to avoid using straws for at least one week following an extraction.
Smokers and people who use other types of tobacco products are much more likely to experience dry socket than non-tobacco users. There are many reasons why this is the case. First of all, when you quickly inhale smoke, you can dislodge your blood clot. Also, tobacco products contain chemicals that interfere with the healing process. Ultimately, you could experience an infection.
If you smoke, it’s best to stop smoking for at least two weeks before the surgery. If you plan on resuming smoking after your extraction, ask your dentist when it would be safest to do so. You certainly don’t want to risk developing dry socket!
Stick to Soft Foods
For the first couple of days after your procedure, stick to eating foods like applesauce, yogurt, and mashed potatoes. Stay away from crunchy and hard foods like nuts, seeds, and chips. After a couple of days, you can attempt to eat heartier foods, but be sure to take it easy.
Ask About Medication Interactions
It is important for you to let your dentist know if you are taking any medications or have any health conditions. For example, some studies indicate that people who take oral contraceptives may be at greater risk of developing dry socket. Certain medications can also prevent the formation of blood clots. By disclosing the medications you are taking, your dentist will be able to plan your dental procedure more effectively.
Keep the Area Clean
To prevent dry socket, it’s important that you maintain excellent oral hygiene. Germs and infections can break down blood clots. Ask your dentist how you should keep your smile clean while you are in recovery mode.
By using the tips listed above, you can lower your risk of developing dry socket. If you follow your dentist’s instructions during recovery, it should be a breeze!
About the Author
Dr. Erin M. Prach earned her dental doctorate from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. She completed a continuing education course on oral surgery in Guatemala, and she is about to achieve Diplomate Status with the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. Currently, she is a proud member of the American Dental Association and the Wyoming Dental Association. For more information or to schedule an appointment at her office in Casper, visit her website or call (307) 337-4770.