For one reason or the other, your dentist may suggest the extraction of your permanent tooth. Due to high advancements and improvements in dentistry, tooth extraction procedure is totally painless. Although, some people experience a condition which is referred to as dry socket, after a wisdom tooth removal. Well, it is normal to feel sore or discomforts after having a tooth extracted, but dry socket pain can be so intense. Severe pain associated with dry socket usually develop 3 to 4 days after the tooth extraction surgery. Dry socket pain is many times worse than the discomfort following tooth removal, it can persist for up to 10 days or more after extraction.
What is dry socket?
Dry socket, also referred to as alveolar osteitis is a painful condition that usually occur following the extraction of a permanent adult tooth. Normally, after tooth extraction, within the next few hours, blood clot forms at the extraction site, covering the empty socket. The blood clot provides a protective layer which covers the underlying bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket.
So, a dry socket is a result of loss of the blood clot in an extraction site. Without the blood clot, the underlying bone and nerve endings gets exposed and results in intense pain. The pain can become too severe and radiate to the side of your face and ear, until new tissues grows back to cover the exposed bone and nerve endings. Well, in most cases, blood clot do form but when disturbed, it dislodges quite early leaving the nerves and bones vulnerable to bacterial contamination and pain.
However, it’s important to know that dry socket can actually slow your recovery process, leaving you in extreme discomfort, with pain radiating from your mouth to your ear, eye, temple, neck or on the same side of your face. Well, your recovery after having a tooth extraction should be smooth and less painful, if you are able to adhere strictly to some few dry socket prevention tips.
How to prevent dry socket
During a tooth extraction, the comfort of the patient before and after the surgery is very important. There are a number of steps that your dentist or oral surgeon will take to ensure proper healing of the socket and to prevent dry socket. Oral antibiotics and antibacterial mouthwashes are usually recommended before and after an extraction surgery. Antibiotics and antiseptic solutions are often applied directly to the empty socket, especially for patients with compromised immune system.
In addition, the dentist or oral surgeon, will take his time to explain some few things that you should expect during the healing process after a tooth extraction. You will also receive some home care instructions on how to care for the wound to help promote healing and prevent dry socket. Below is a list of few things that you can do to help decrease the risk and pevent dry socket:
1. Avoid rigorous exercise. In the meantime, try to avoid rigorous exercises or sports that can dislodge the fresh blood clot over the extraction site. If possible, don’t go to work or school for some few days after the extraction surgery. You should follow your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s recommendations about when to resume your normal activities like work or school and how long to avoid rigorous exercise and sports that might result in dislodging the blood clot in the socket. (1)
2. Take only the prescribed medications. After the extraction procedure, the dentist or surgeon is likely to prescribe some pain medications and home remedies that you can try to help reduce pain and swelling. Most health care professionals often recommend placing some cold packs on the outside of your face on the first day after extraction and to help decrease the pain and swelling. In addition, ensure to follow your dentist’s or surgeon’s instructions on applying cold and also take only the recommended pain medications for fast recovery.
3. Discontinue oral contraceptive use. According to studies, high estrogen levels from oral contraceptives may disrupt normal healing processes and increase your risk of developing dry socket after tooth extraction. If you have been using any oral contraceptive before the surgery, try to avoid using them after the surgery until the extraction site heals.
4. Avoid certain foods and drinks. Staying hydrated and eating healthy foods after the surgery is very important, but you need to watch the things that you eat. Don’t take alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages for as long as your dentist or oral surgeon recommends. When drinking, don’t ever drink using a straw for at least a week because the straw can easily dislodge the fresh blood clot in your socket. In addition, eat only soft and liquid foods, for the first few days after the surgery. Avoid hard foods, hot and cold liquids or chewing on the surgery side of your mouth.
5. Avoid the extraction site for some few days. If you must, you can gently rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after the surgery. Within the next 24 hours after the surgery, try as much as possible to avoid the extraction site, in order not to dislodge the blood clot. Most health professionals often recommend rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater gently for several times a day for a week after your surgery. But remember, whatever you do, try to follow the instructions that was given to you by your dentist or oral surgeon.
6. Stop smoking and tobacco use. Health professionals have always complained that chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco may prevent or slow healing, contaminate the wound site and even result in dry socket. In most cases, some patients physically dislodge their blood clot due to the act of sucking on a cigarette after surgery. If you must smoke or use any other form of tobacco, you should wait for at least 48 hours after the surgery or as long as your dentist or oral surgeon recommends.
- Read this to – learn more about dry socket.