Some discomfort after a wisdom tooth extraction is normal; you can usually expect it to start getting better after a few days. However, if you’re not careful, the recovery process could suddenly become a lot more painful thanks to a dry socket! This is when the protective blood clot that forms at the extraction site is dislodged before the gums have healed, exposing the bone and nerves underneath. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, but it can extend recovery time. Fortunately, you can protect your socket by following these 4 tips.
1. Do Not Use Straws for at Least Once Week
Most of the time, dry socket is the result of the blood clot being moved somehow. When you use a straw, the suction movement of air in your mouth (as well as your cheek muscles) might remove the clot by accident. To be safe, avoid straws altogether for at least a week after extraction.
2. Do Not Smoke or Use Tobacco of Any Kind
Inhaling a cigarette can have a similar effect to sucking on a straw; however, smoking or using other tobacco products can lead to further damage because the chemicals they contain stop your gums from healing correctly and expose them to infection. Talk to your dentist about quitting smoking before and after the procedure; at minimum, you’ll likely need to avoid tobacco products altogether for at least 48 hours.
3. Eat Only Soft Foods
Hard foods such as nuts, crunchy foods such as chips, and sticky foods such as caramel all have the potential to knock your blood clot out of its socket. You should choose soft foods for the first day of recovery; applesauce, yogurt, and mashed potatoes are all good options. Over time you can start reintroducing more solid foods into your diet, although you should go back to softer foods if it hurts to chew.
4. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Harmful germs and bacteria in your mouth could break down the blood clot, which is why you need to keep the socket (as well as the rest of your mouth) as clean as possible during your recovery. Your dentist will give you instructions for brushing your teeth during this time. In many cases, they might recommend simply rinsing the first day; you may be able to start brushing on the second day, but you’ll need to be very gentle so as not to disturb the clot. Sometimes you might receive a prescription for antibacterial mouthwash.
If you think you have a dry socket, call your dentist immediately; they’ll normally be able to treat it by rinsing out the socket and using appropriate medication. Act quickly to avoid the potential complications of dry socket so that you’ll be able to eat and smile comfortably that much sooner!
About 21st Century Dental
At 21st Century Dental, you can take advantage of the skills and experience for four different dentists who all share the goal of exceeding patient expectations with high-quality dentistry. We can handle wisdom tooth extractions with ease and help you feel as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure. To schedule an appointment, visit our website or call (972) 255-3712.