Tooth extraction refers to the process of removing a tooth and its roots. Most tooth extractions are required due to disease, trauma, or crowding. Millions of Americans have tooth extractions every year.
While discomfort, swelling, and some bleeding are common, most patients recover quickly. However, if proper aftercare is ignored dry sockets and other complications can arise.
What Are Dry Sockets?
After a tooth extraction, your mouth will slowly form a blood clot to fill in the now empty space where your tooth and its root were. Dry sockets develop when the newly formed blood clots are dislodged exposing the underlying bone and nerve endings. In addition to severe pain, dry sockets can also cause bad breath, an unpleasant taste in your mouth, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, and a low grade fever.
How Do I Avoid Dry Sockets?
Following good aftercare is pertinent to a healthy and uncomplicated recovery. Reduce the likelihood of infection or dry sockets by following your doctor’s aftercare instructions. Here are some do’s and don’ts to aid in a speedy recovery.
It is important that you get plenty of rest after your tooth extraction. Even if you feel great, don’t exercise or strain your body with too much activity for at least 24 hours. When resting, keep your head elevated and in a slightly upright position on the pillow.
Let It Clot
Wait at least 24 hours before you clean the extraction site to allow the clot to form. This clot helps protect the extraction site. You can still gently brush your teeth while making sure to avoid your extraction site.
Applying ice packs to the outside of your mouth will reduce swelling and bruising while also temporarily relieving pain.
Use a Warm Saline Rinse
Once you have allowed clots to form, you may rinse your mouth with a warm saline solution. The warm saline solution aids in cleaning and maintaining good oral hygiene of the extraction site.
Tobacco use is one the of the most common causes of dry sockets. Using tobacco slows the healing process. Smoking introduces bacteria and chewing tobacco disrupts the clotted extraction site.
Don’t Eat Solids
After your tooth removal, stick to soft foods. Drink plenty of water and liquids (just steer clear of sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages) while avoiding straws. The suction from straws can dislodge the formed blood clot.
After a tooth extraction, it can feel weird or jarring to have a gap in your mouth, but resist the temptation to poke that area. Poking can provoke bleeding, delay healing, and dislodge clots leading to dry sockets.
A tooth extraction can be stressful, but if you follow your dentist’s instructions and make sure to take good oral care of your extraction site, your recovery should be trouble free. If you are in need of a tooth extraction or feel that you may have dry sockets call the dental professionals at Holub Dentistry today.