How to Prevent a Dry Socket After a Tooth Extraction

How to Prevent a Dry Socket After a Tooth Extraction

Dry socket is a condition in which the blood clot that forms after an extraction dislodges. While this condition only happens in about 2% of cases, if it does occur, it can be painful and interfere with proper healing. So the best course of action is to take steps to prevent this from occurring.

In this blog, David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, of The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas, highlight four steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing dry socket after a tooth extraction

1. Refrain from using a straw

A straw may seem like the perfect utensil to use to sip on your ice cold smoothie after an extraction, but straws can contribute to the development of dry socket. That’s because the sucking motion required to use a straw can dislodge the protective blood clot at the extraction site.

Instead, skip the straws for at least 48 hours after an extraction. 

2. Avoid smoking and using tobacco

Just like using a straw can dislodge the blood clot, so can the action of inhaling when smoking. Furthermore, smoking can delay wound healing and increase your risk of developing oral cancer.

If you’re getting an extraction in preparation for a dental implant, it’s even more important to stop smoking, as smoking can delay healing after your implant surgery. Consider using this time to begin a smoking cessation program.

3. Brush your teeth carefully

You should avoid brushing the area around the extraction site for up to four days. Follow any post-extraction instructions carefully, such as rinsing your mouth with a prescription mouth rinse or saline water to keep your mouth clean.

Once you’re ready to begin brushing the extraction site — usually around the fourth day — brush gingerly. 

4. Focus on soft foods

Hard, crunchy foods, such as tortilla chips, popcorn, or nuts, can accidentally dislodge your blood clot. Additionally, these types of foods can also leave behind debris, which may irritate your tooth socket. Since you can’t brush this area normally for a few days, leftover debris can be particularly irritating. 

Instead, focus on soft foods after your tooth extraction. Dr. Epstein and Dr. Vakil will provide you with specific dietary instructions, including how long you should stick with a soft foods diet, but in general, good choices include:

Stay hydrated and include as many nutrients as possible in your meals to give your body the nutrients it needs to heal. Adding vegetables, protein powder, or green powder to your smoothie can help you reach your nutrient goals on a soft foods diet.

Spot the signs of dry socket

Pain is normal after an extraction, but it should dissipate. However, if it gets worse in the days after your surgery, you might be dealing with dry socket. Other signs of dry socket include swelling, a visible lack of a blood clot at the extraction site, bad breath, and visible bone. 

If you suspect you’ve developed dry socket, come in right away. We’ll examine you, and if you have the condition, we’ll clean the socket and apply medication. As it is with most conditions, the sooner you get care, the sooner you can start feeling better and the higher your chances will be of avoiding complications. We can also prescribe pain medication if needed.

If you need an extraction, we can help. To learn more, call 281-367-3085 to book an appointment with The Woodlands Dental Group today.

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