7 Tips on How to Avoid Dry Socket

BY Dr. McDowell  |  September 6th, 2021
Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

Are you worried about developing a dry socket?

When you have a tooth removed for one reason or another, your mouth will develop a blood clot over the area the tooth was (tooth socket) as a way of protecting your mouth from infection and to help it heal correctly. When this blood clot becomes dislodged, it often times creates the infamous dry socket.

One of the most common times an individual could develop dry socket would be after they’ve had their wisdom teeth removed. Considering tooth remove is an unpleasant experience in the first place, it’s best to take a few steps to avoid dry sockets. As you have probably heard, dry sockets are an extremely painful sore in your mouth!

dry socket

What is Dry Socket?

To experience a dry socket, the blood clot that’s in your mouth after a tooth is removed will become dislodged. When this happens it leaves an open or ‘dry’ exposure of your bone and nerves which is what we call a dry socket (technically called alveolar osteitis). As you have probably heard, dry sockets can be extremely painful and prevents the healing process from taking place as quickly as it otherwise would.

The blood clot that forms should stay in place and not be removed in order to protect your bone, nerves, and gums. Not only is it uncomfortable when that blood clot becomes dislodged, but it can also cause further complications.

Here are the top tips for how to avoid dry sockets:

How to Avoid Dry Socket

There are quite a few ways that you can try to avoid dislodging that blood clot. Not all of them will be applicable to everyone, but take note of each of them.

Avoid Straws

Straws are one of the most common ways that people develop dry sockets. Often when using a straw, it’s hard to control how quickly liquid enters your mouth or where the liquid will go when it does enter your mouth. The suction that is created in your mouth is also potentially hazardous to the blood clot protecting your tooth socket.

You won’t have to avoid those Starbucks straws for long. After roughly a week, you should be able to get back to using your favorite straw. But, as with all of these tips, be sure to speak with your dentist and listen closely to their advice.

Avoid Smoking, Alcohol and Chewing Tabacco

Smoking has never been good for your oral health, and that’s also true during the recovery of your tooth extraction as well. Your chances of getting a dry socket go up by 3x if you smoke after tooth extraction. One of the reasons this happens is because of the inhalation and suction that occurs during smoking. It would be best if you tried to avoid all smoking during recovery (or quit smoking entirely).

Alcohol needs to be avoided because alcohol can encourage bleeding and delay the healing process. In many ways, alcohol can relax your body too much and keep it from healing the way that it should.

Finally, chewing tobacco and all tobacco use in general should be completely abstained from as well. Continuously chewing, sucking, or spitting can cause your blood clot to become dislodged from the extraction site.

Avoid Hard Foods that Need To Be Chewed

soup in a bowl. What to eat after wisdom tooth removal

Hard foods like apples, carrots, chips, some meats, nuts, and more should be avoided during recovery. Truly any food that needs to be chewed for an extensive amount of time is one that you should avoid. Try to stick to soft foods or foods that require the least amount of chewing possible. Here are some foods that are good to eat when you’re trying to recover from tooth extraction

These are just a few of the great options that you can eat! Check out the full list here!

Ask Your Dentist about Your Medications

Certain medications can have an impact on your blood’s ability to clot. If you’re on different medications that you know of that thin your blood or could cause any problems, be sure to talk with your dentist.

Even if you’re sure that your medication doesn’t thin your blood, it’s important that you make your dentist aware of all of the medication that you’re using.

Maintain Proper Oral Care

Proper oral care is key to keeping any mouth healthy but especially a mouth that is recovering from any sort of operation. In order to keep a low risk of developing dry socket, you’ll want to brush your teeth regularly but carefully to avoid brushing over the extraction site. Brushing two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, is still the ideal, but avoid brushing too closely to your blood clot because of the problems it might cause if it were to dislodge it.

To ensure the wound it kept clean, your dentist will most likely provide an antibacterial mouthwash or syringe for you to accurately and delicately rinse the extraction site.

Flossing is also just as important after tooth extraction as it is before. Keeping your mouth clean will help to prevent bone and nerves from becoming infected by bacteria that builds up from not properly cleaning your teeth. Here are some flossing tips to help you get started with good flossing habits.

Avoid Strenuous Physical Activity

Trying to keep from being too physically active can be a challenge. In order to help your mouth heal up in the fastest time and best way, you’ll have to take it easy for a few days. Tooth extraction is hard on your body, and if you’re trying to prevent a dry socket, don’t do too much physical activity that could cause your blood clot to be jolted loose.

woman avoiding physical activity to avoid dry sockets

Symptoms of Dry Socket

If you think you might have a dry socket, here are some of the symptoms and signs to look for.

Aside from a fairly substantial pain, one of the most common ways to tell if you have dry socket is to look into your mouth with a mirror. If, when you’re looking into your mouth, you see visible bone where your tooth was before the extraction, then you probably have a dry socket.

Two other common symptoms are bad breath and a bad taste that lingers in your mouth over time. If you start to experience any of these types of symptoms, then be sure to contact your dentist right away! There are treatments that your dentist will need to provide if you have developed a dry socket.

Ask Your Dentist

If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, it is always best to reach out to your dentist. We recommend finding a quality dentist near you that you trust. When you regularly visit the same dentist, it makes it easier for them to track your dental health over time and ensure your needs are met. If you are in Minnesota and are looking for an innovative and trustworthy dental office, reach out to us at Wayzata Dental! We look forward to meeting you.

Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

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