Avoiding Dry Sockets After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Each year, millions of Americans undergo wisdom teeth removal with very little swelling, discomfort or pain. However, a small percentage of the population experience dry sockets. Only 2-5 percent of tooth extraction patients get dry sockets, but knowing about dry sockets prior to the removal procedure can help a patient prevent getting them. A socket is a hole in the bone where the tooth was removed. Dry sockets occur when the blood clot that formed to protect the bone and nerves becomes dislodged, thus, exposing them to air, food, etc. Food, saliva and bacteria can become lodged in the clots place, causing pain and discomfort. The dislodging of this blood clot delays the healing process since blood clots are crucial to healing. Lower teeth that have been removed are more likely to develop dry sockets than extracted, upper teeth. Though dry sockets can be incredibly painful to endure, they can be easily prevented.
Dry Socket Symptoms
- Pain that begins about two days after the tooth removal. Pain can radiate from the socket itself and in some cases, all the way to the ear. Pain is often described as dull and throbbing.
- A dry looking opening where the tooth was extracted, where a blood clot should be
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
Causes of Dry Socket After Tooth Extraction
Once the blood clot becomes dislodged, there are many ways that dry sockets can develop. Both drinking from a straw and smoking can create suction that can dislodge the blood clot in tooth socket. The main cause of the development of dry sockets is food or other debris becoming lodged in the place of the blood clot. Food is hard to remove from an open socket without proper tools. Oftentimes surgeons send patients home with a plastic syringe to fill with water or solution to clean out the area where the teeth were removed. Coughing, sneezing, or spitting can also cause debris to fall into the open socket, causing a dry socket. Poor oral hygiene and touching the wound area increases the risk of developing dry sockets, as well as women who take birth control medication. Women who take birth control have a 30% higher chance of developing dry sockets than those who do not.
How to Treat Dry Socket
- Anti-inflammatory medicine will be prescribed for the pain
- A dentist will go in and remove any debris that became lodged in the hole. They will then fill it with a medicated paste that promotes healing
- This paste is removed and reapplied every day for a few days
- If the socket becomes infected, the dentist will prescribe antibiotics
How to Prevent Dry Sockets After Wisdom Teeth Removal
- Practicing good oral hygiene
- Using the medicated oral rinse as instructed
- Rinsing your mouth with salt water after eating, to remove excess bacteria
- Avoiding touching the wound at all costs, other than changing gauze after the procedure
- Stop smoking for at least 24 hours after the tooth removal
- Not eating anything that leaves residual food particles in your mouth, such as popcorn, peanuts and pasta for four days after the procedure
- Eating soft foods, such as clear soup, mashed potatoes and pudding
- Avoiding carbonated drinks
- Telling your dentist/oral surgeon about any and all prescriptions you are taking before the procedure
What to Do If a Dry Sockets Develops
If you develop a dry socket, you should call our practice as soon as possible. When calling, be sure to inform us that you recently had your wisdom teeth removed and believe you have a dry socket. This will help us give you tips to keep you comfortable while we arrange for your visit. You will need to return to our practice so that our oral surgeon can make an incision over the empty tooth socket so that a new clot will form.
Call us today at Austin Oral Surgery for questions or to schedule an appointment.