September 6, 2023
Under normal circumstances, most people recover from a tooth extraction within a week or two. Unfortunately, a rare and painful complication known as dry socket can significantly slow down the healing process for some patients. What exactly is dry socket? How can you prevent it? Read on below to discover information that will help you to enjoy a smooth recovery after a tooth extraction.
What Is Dry Socket?
After a tooth gets removed, your body should naturally start to form a blood clot at the extraction site. The purpose of the clot is to protect the empty socket and facilitate your body’s healing process. Dry socket is the complication that occurs when that blood clot fails to form or gets prematurely knocked out of place. It can be extremely painful; patients sometimes describe it as feeling like a severe toothache.
The risk of dry socket is at its highest 3 – 5 days after an extraction. However, it can occur at any time before the site is totally healed.
How to Prevent Dry Socket
The possibility of dry socket can seem scary, but it is really nothing to worry about. As long as you take some simple precautions, it is unlikely that you will suffer from any complications. For example, you should:
- Ask your dentist about socket preservation. Before your extraction, ask if you are a candidate for socket preservation, which is a bone graft that is performed to protect an empty socket after a tooth is removed.
- Do not smoke. The ingredients in cigarettes can slow down your body’s ability to heal.
- Do not use a drinking straw. The suction action could dislodge your blood clot.
- Be careful with your diet. Try to avoid crunchy, hard, chewy, and spicy foods. Instead, eat a very soft or no-chew diet for at least a few days.
- Be cautious with oral hygiene. You should continue to brush and floss your mouth after your extraction, but you should not touch your extraction site with your toothbrush, fingers, or tongue for at least 3 – 4 days.
- Do not spit vigorously. It is better to swallow extra saliva or absorb it with a tissue.
What if You Develop Dry Socket?
If your extraction site starts to cause significant pain, or you notice that your tooth socket looks empty, see your dentist ASAP. They can use a medicated dressing and other means to treat the dry socket and relieve your pain. Most cases of dry socket heal within 7 – 10 days.
Dry socket can be an extremely painful condition. Fortunately, it is both preventable and treatable.
Meet the Practice
Blue Coast Dental Group is home to both a general dentist and multiple specialists. Our team works together to provide comprehensive, top-quality care to the Torrance community. If you have questions about tooth extractions, socket preservation, or dry socket, we are ready to speak with you. Get in touch with our office at 310-424-3100.
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