March 4th, 2020
When you have a tooth extracted, your body immediately sets to work to help protect the affected area. The blood that collects at the site of the extraction clots to cover and protect the wound. This is a normal response, and protects the nerves and bone that have been exposed with the removal of your tooth. Normally, the gum tissue will close over the area within a few weeks.
But sometimes the clot becomes dislodged or dissolved before you have a chance to heal. This condition is known as “alveolar osteitis,” or dry socket. Sensitive nerves and bone in the extraction site are exposed to air and outside substances causing intense pain. Bacteria and food particles can also contaminate the wound and lead to pain and infection in the area around the socket.
There are certain activities that should definitely be avoided to reduce the risk of dry socket.
- Straws and suction
The action of using a straw causes suction that can dislodge the clot. You can still enjoy the soothing coolness of a milkshake, but use a spoon.
You might be tempted to rinse and spit immediately to clean your mouth, but spitting can also dislodge the clot. We will let you know how to clean your mouth and teeth for the next few days.
Not only does smoking provide a suction effect that can remove the clot, but smoking and chewing tobacco can slow healing as well.
There are also steps you can take to aid the healing process.
- Caring for your extraction site
We’ll give you instructions on caring for your mouth and teeth for the next few days. Gentle care for the extraction site is vital. And treat yourself gently as well. Rest if you need to, and avoid activities that might impact your wound.
- Choose your beverages carefully
Hot drinks can loosen the clot protecting the wounded area, and alcohol, caffeine, and carbonation also put your healing at risk. Water is a safe choice not only for healing, but for keeping hydrated.
- Think about your diet
Stick to soft foods for the first day or so and chew on the side opposite your extraction site. Foods which can lodge in the teeth, like peanuts, popcorn, nuts, and seeds, should be avoided completely.
- Watch for symptoms of dry socket
How do you know if you have a dry socket? Monitor your pain and the appearance of the site after the extraction. For the first few days, you might feel some pain in the immediate area. Pain that intensifies after three or four days is usually not a result of the extraction. An unpleasant odor or taste in your mouth could be a sign of dry socket. You might look in the mirror and notice that the clot is no longer there, or appears to have been dislodged. If any of these symptoms occur, call San Antonio or Castroville at once. If you are experiencing dry socket, the extraction site will need to be cleaned and protected from further injury.
Dry socket is a relatively rare occurrence, but if you have any symptoms that concern you, we want to hear about them. Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman will work with you to make your extraction treatment go as smoothly as possible. Talk to us about your concerns before any oral surgery, and we will provide detailed information for the procedure and for the healing process afterward. Keep us in the loop as you recuperate, and we will work together to make your recovery a speedy one.