Getting a wisdom tooth removed is a safe procedure, but developing dry socket can prolong your recovery time. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that forms in the extraction site dislodges before the damaged gum tissue has had time to heal. When dry socket occurs, it can be very painful, but thankfully there are things you can do to prevent it.
1. Avoid Touching the Clot
The more you touch the clot, the more likely you are to dislodge it before the gum beneath has finished healing. Avoid the temptation to probe the extraction site with your tongue and keep your fingers out of your mouth unless you are changing a dressing or cleaning your teeth.
2. Don't Smoke
Smokers are much more likely to develop dry socket than non-smokers. This is partly because drawing smoke into the mouth creates forces that can suck the clot out of its socket. The chemicals in cigarettes are also harmful, as they slow down the rate at which the gum tissue can heal. Your dentist may advise that you can smoke once 24 hours have passed since the extraction, although kicking the habit for good is the best option for your overall dental health.
3. Don't Use a Straw
You might think that using a straw limits contact between liquids and your extraction site, but in fact using a straw can increase the risk of dry socket. This is because sucking forces can shift a clot out of place. Instead, take small sips of water to keep your mouth moist throughout the day.
4. Choose Beverages Carefully
The bubbles in carbonated soft drinks can increase the risk of a clot dissolving early. After your extraction, replace your favourite soft drinks with cool water. Avoid hot drinks like tea or coffee, as your mouth is likely to be very sensitive to heat after you wisdom teeth removal.
5. Consider Your Cycle
Women who use hormonal contraception have an additional consideration when planning to have their wisdom teeth taken out. While you are taking the active pills, your chance of developing dry socket can be as much as 30 percent higher than usual. Reduce your risk of dry socket by scheduling the procedure during your placebo or pill-free week, when you have your withdrawal bleed. The level of hormones in your blood is lower during this time, which means that it can form a strong and stable clot.
For more information, talk to your dentist.