How to Avoid Dry Socket

How to avoid dry socket in Fairview Dentist - Sloan Creek Dental

What is dry socket?

After undergoing a tooth extraction like getting your wisdom tooth removed, a blood clot forms over the removal site (tooth socket) to protect the underlying nerve endings and bone. To avoid infection, you must keep your blood clot in place while your mouth and gum heal. If the blood clot does not remain in place, this will result in a condition called alveolar osteitis, also known as dry socket, where it can be an uncomfortable painful condition.

What causes dry socket to develop?

A dry socket is a common complication that can occur after a extraction, like a wisdom tooth extraction. The cause can be anything that dislodges the blood clot before the area has time to heal. Common culprits include food particles getting lodged in the area where the tooth extraction occurred, the suction from straws dislodging the clot, sneezing, coughing, bad hygiene, and spitting. Depending on the individual, there are instances where a dry socket occurs when you never develop the blood clot.

Symptoms of Dry Socket

Light discomfort is standard following a tooth extraction, and it should be manageable with over-the-counter pain medication. If your discomfort worsens or causes difficulty eating or drinking, there’s a probability you’re developing dry socket. If that’s the case, you might experience searing or cold-like nerve pain due to the exposed bone and nerve tissue.

Common symptoms of dry socket following a tooth removal may include:

  • Visible bone that is exposed at the area of extraction
  • Blood clot missing from the tooth socket
  • Severe pain in the jaw or gum
  • Bad breath or foul odor
  • Unpleasant taste coming from the tooth removal area
  • Intense earaches
  • Intense pain that distributes throughout your face

How to Prevent Dry Socket

Once your tooth extraction is complete, it’s essential to take care of the area immediately for several days for a healthy recovery, and to avoid dry socket. To ensure proper healing, be sure to refer to your dentist’s post-op instructions following your extraction, maintain good oral hygiene, and follow these six tips to avoid potential complications.

Avoid Using Straws

You should not use a straw for seven days after having a tooth extracted. If you use a straw, the suction movement of your cheek muscles along with the vacuum it creates may dislodge your blood clot.

Avoid Tobacco use and smoking

After a tooth extraction procedure, the risk of having dry socket is much greater in those who smoke or use any form of tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, smoking, and nicotine gum. According to one research, 12% of individuals who smoked after having a tooth extracted had a dry socket. In comparison, those who do not smoke are just 4% more likely to experience it.

The increased chance for dry socket is because the tobacco products may include chemical compounds that prevent healing and increase the risk of infection. Until the area is healed, your dentist will advise you to avoid smoking during this time to allow the natural healing process.

Soft Foods

Avoid eating foods that may get stuck in your socket following a tooth removal. Begin with applesauce, yogurt, and mashed potatoes, moving on to more “solid” foods after a few days following the surgery. If you feel any discomfort, resume a soft diet until the area is properly healed.

Hot foods such as soup may sound like a good idea but avoid it. It may cause your blood clot to loosen and dislodge from its position due to the sucking motion. Also, chewy foods, crunchy foods like nuts, seeds, gritty meals like chips, and sticky foods, should be avoided as they may get caught in your socket and irritate the area.

Proper Oral Hygiene

One of the essential things you can do to avoid dry sockets is to keep your mouth clean. Oral hygiene helps prevent bacteria and infections from causing the blood clot to break down and dissolve. Your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend gently rinsing your mouth out the first day and then lightly brushing the second day. In some instances, an antimicrobial mouthwash may be given to you for use after surgery. Use gauze pads only when instructed to do so.

Getting Plenty Of Rest

It is important to rest after getting your wisdom teeth removed. Healing times vary depending on the person after an extraction, and your dentist will recommend that you get plenty of rest and avoid talking a lot, especially right after the procedure. This prevents any swelling and bleeding and helps the bone and wound heal faster.

Rest and relax after tooth removal

Avoid Strenuous Physical Activity

If you’ve just had a tooth extracted, it’s essential to take things easy over the next few days to help your healing process. To eliminate the risk of developing a dry socket, don’t engage in strenuous activity that would dislodge the blood clot around the surgical site. Once your mouth and dry socket have completely healed, you can resume normal activities.

What To Do If A Dry Socket Develops?

Dry socket is a painful complication that may go away on it’s own, however, you may continue to experience discomfort and pain until it is healed. If you think you may have dry socket or are experiencing severe pain preventing you from sleeping after your oral surgery, it’s best to contact your dentist.

If you need to see a dentist, your dentist will do one or more of the following:
  • Clean out the socket
  • Apply medication
  • Prescribe pain medication to diminish the pain
If  you’re experiencing less than severe pain, you can quickly treat it yourself. We recommend the following home remedies for treatment:
  • Over the counter pain medication
  • Cold & warm compress to the area
  • Essential Oils

After the initial signs and symptoms of a dry socket (pain, sensitivity to hot or cold, exudate, and loose fragments) have completely disappeared, you may resume everyday activities. The healing process varies from person to person, but most people take between one to two weeks to recover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get Dry Socket with Stiches?

Stitches won’t cause dry socket – they’re a common procedure performed after a wisdom tooth extraction to help prevent dry socket, which is a condition that results from the loss of blood supply around the tooth.

When Can I stop Worrying About Getting Dry Socket?

Assuming you follow the tips mentioned above, there’s still a small chance dry socket can happen if you aren’t careful for up to 2 weeks, or up until the wound heals. It varies from person to person as long as the area is still healing.

How Easy Is It To Get Dry Socket?

When you have your wisdom teeth removed, the blood clot that forms in your tooth socket following the procedure can sometimes become dislodged. This is called dry socket. Dry socket occurs in approximately 2%-4% of people, but when it happens, it can be painful, but is treatable.

Treating Dry Socket in Fairview, TX

We’re here to help if you experience any signs or symptoms of a dry socket, like pain or swelling, please stop by our Fairview dental office today to receive the help and relief your oral health deserves.

If you have any questions, want to learn more about how Dr. Feng in Fairview can treat you, or to schedule an appointment at our office, please get in touch with our dental office at 972-468-1440, or leave us a message.  

Our dental office is located in Fairview, Texas, and our patients visit us from across the surrounding areas, including Allen, Plano, McKinney, and Lucas.