What Is A Dry Socket & How Can I Avoid It?

Tooth extraction is no fun for anyone, but you might encounter a painful condition in the aftermath of your removal site: Dry socket—this occurs during the healing process and can result in severe pain, but you can do a few things to minimize the likelihood of experiencing this condition. 

In this guide, we’ll take a  look at what a dry socket is and how you can avoid it: 

What Is a Dry Socket?

Dry socket occurs when the proper healing process of tooth extraction is interrupted. When a tooth is removed, a blood clot should form over the extraction site. In some instances, this blood clot might not form at all or could be disrupted before the tooth socket has time to finish healing. 

A blood clot is an important part of the healing process, protecting nerve endings and underlying bone structure. If it isn’t in place, you will be more susceptible to pain caused by the exposure of bone and nerve endings. The resulting dry socket becomes swollen and often irritated. 

Another issue with a dry socket is that it might become filled with food as you eat, interfering further with the healing of your tooth extraction and causing significantly more pain. 

Sign and symptoms of dry socket include: 

  • Visible bone
  • Pain radiating to the ear, temple or neck of the head (on the same side as tooth extraction)

Dry socket pain usually develops about one to three days following the tooth extraction (often because of wisdom teeth removal). Over-the-counter medications are not likely to be enough to combat the pain when you dislodge the blood clot. Instead, you should head back to where you had your tooth extraction in Saskatoon done for a check-up and treatment. 

How Do I Avoid Developing Dry Socket After a Tooth Extraction?

The good news is that many people can avoid the intense pain that often accompanies an empty tooth socket. When you know that you are going for a wisdom teeth extraction, you should plan ahead with your oral surgeon so that you’ll be prepared for the aftercare. 

If you experience any of the symptoms of dry socket, contact Dental House immediately. We can help you stay comfortable even if the blood clot doesn’t form properly. 

Avoid Smoking

One of the most challenging aspects of preventing dry sockets is refraining from smoking. Those who are addicted to nicotine might want to consider investing in nicotine patches for at least a week following the tooth removal. Smoking has a twofold effect that can make dry socket pain more likely. 

First, the chemicals used in the manufacturing of cigarettes can actually hinder the healing of your tooth extractions. They ultimately slow everything down when it comes to healing. If you aren’t careful, you may even find that these chemicals get into the wound site and cause extreme pain. 

Another reason why cigarettes and smoking contribute to dry socket formation is because of the sucking. Pulling on the cigarette when inhaling can dislodge the blood clot while allowing the chemicals to get into the extraction site. 

While it’s always advisable to steer clear of smoking, you will especially want to minimize your intake of cigarettes following tooth extractions. 

Don’t Use Drinking Straws

Many people who have oral surgery already know that they need to stick to soft foods. What could be better than a thick milkshake when you have a limited diet? The problem is that many people try to drink their milkshake through a straw rather than eating it with a spoon. 

Any type of drinking straw poses a major problem for blood clots and can delay healing. 

The simple motion of applying pressure to suck on the straw has the potential to put you at greater risk of developing a dry socket. To promote proper healing, you should avoid drinking straws of any kind for at least 48 to 72 hours following your tooth extractions. 

Avoid Brushing and Disturbing the Blood Clot

Brushing your teeth is essential for keeping down the risk factors associated with infection from the extraction site. Even if you aren’t eating much in the days after your extractions or surgery, your teeth still develop and harbour harmful bacteria. 

To prevent bacterial contamination you should brush as well as you can to remove bacteria in all areas but you should avoid the extraction site as the blood clot may get disturbed.  Also, the act of spitting out toothpaste or rinsing with water can sometimes dislodge what the blood clot protects. You must be very careful with how you handle the site while still doing your best to keep the surgical site clean. 

Once the extraction site starts healing and there is no sign of bleeding (usually 48-72 hours after your surgery), you can resume brushing normally.  You can also rinse with saltwater solution or another solution provided by your dentist. 

Eat Soft Foods

Last but not least, you want to try to stick to a diet of soft foods for the first few days following your tooth removal. Hard or crunchy foods put you at a greater risk of dry socket. Not to mention, your jaw is likely to be sore after you have your wisdom teeth removed. 

You’ll likely be more comfortable sticking to soft foods or liquids like broth, soup, Jell-O, pudding, and ice cream. Foods that aren’t soft enough can also get into the extraction site and cause more pain. Stay away from foods that can easily become lodged in the space where your tooth once was. This can include items like popcorn kernels or rice. 

You can relieve pain with over-the-counter painkillers or what your saskatoon dentist prescribes, but it’s best to do what you can to minimize this by eating soft foods. 

Get Help To Prevent Dry Socket

Are you ready to tackle your tooth extraction aftercare and prevent dry socket from forming? Dental House can help you get the needed treatment and walk you through every step of the recovery process. We won’t leave you on your own in the aftermath of having your wisdom teeth removed and will do our best to make you as comfortable as possible. 

If you need to schedule a tooth extraction or discuss clinical treatment techniques for dry socket, reach out to Dental House in Saskatoon today to learn more about proper dental care and treatment.