After wisdom tooth extraction, most of us don’t really think about the healing process that’s taking place. We’re too focused on our overall recovery and managing the discomfort that can occur. But healing after wisdom tooth extraction is important — not just for your overall oral health, but for preventing a complication called dry socket.
With extensive experience in wisdom tooth removal, Brandon Kang, DDS, and the team at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center help patients in Oakland, California, avoid dry socket with detailed care instructions aimed at protecting the socket while it recovers.
Here’s what they want you to know about dry socket, including how to prevent it.
When a tooth is pulled, it leaves a hole, or socket, behind. In the very early stages of healing, a clot forms inside the socket. This clot helps seal the socket and protect your bone, nerves, and other tissues while your gum heals and seals over it.
Normally, the clot stays in place throughout the healing process. But sometimes, the clot is dislodged, leaving your socket empty. This is dry socket, and it can leave your bone and nerves exposed. Not surprisingly, your risk of infection can increase dramatically once the clot is gone, and, of course, the exposed nerves can cause a significant amount of pain.
Dry socket isn’t common. In fact, it only affects about 2%-5% of people who have a tooth pulled. Still, because of the problems it can cause, it’s important to do all you can to prevent it from happening.
After your extraction, you receive a list of instructions to aid in the healing process. Those instructions include a list of things you should do to avoid dry socket. So, the first thing you can do to avoid dry socket is to follow those instructions — and if anything isn’t clear, give us a call right away.
During the initial stage of recovery, you’ll need to stick with liquids and very soft foods. It can be tempting to drink fluids through a straw, but don’t. A straw creates suction inside your mouth, and that suction can pull the clot out of its socket.
Although it’s important to keep the incision area clean, you’ll also want to avoid vigorous swishing and rinsing. Don’t brush vigorously in the area — again, follow the cleaning information provided in your discharge instructions. Don’t brush the area or rinse at all for the first 24 hours after your extraction.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing dry socket. If you smoke, you should absolutely quit for a few weeks before your surgery to support normal clotting.
Although dry socket isn’t common following tooth removal, it tends to happen more often after wisdom tooth extraction. Fortunately, you can dramatically reduce your risk of dry socket simply by following the instructions provided to you by Dr. Kang.
To learn more about wisdom tooth extraction, including the benefits it offers for your health, book an appointment online or over the phone at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center today.