The majority of people who have their wisdom teeth removed experience only minor swelling and discomfort. But a small percentage will develop a dry socket after the procedure. When you have your wisdom teeth removed, a blood clot forms in the hole in the bone where your tooth was, which helps protect the bone and nerves. When it becomes dislodged, it creates a dry socket that can then be home to food and bacteria. This causes pain and discomfort, and greatly impedes the healing process.
If you experience any of the following symptoms following wisdom teeth removal, it could be a sign of a dry socket:
- Dull and throbbing pain that develops 24 to 48 hours after wisdom teeth extraction.
- Emptiness in the socket where a blood clot should be
- Foul odor or taste coming from the extraction site
While dry sockets are extremely painful, there are ways to prevent them from happening:
- Take it easy. You’ll need to get plenty of rest following surgery, so abstain from doing any normal activities for the first week.
- Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol, carbonated or hot drinks for the first day. And avoid using a straw, which can dislodge the blood clot and lead to a dry socket.
- East soft foods. Applesauce, soup, mashed potatoes and yogurt are good options. Stay away from crunchy or chewy foods which may lodge in the socket.
- Avoid smoking. Using tobacco products can interfere with proper healing after wisdom teeth removal. If you smoke, abstain for the 24 hours following surgery.
- Rinse your mouth. For the first day after surgery, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours to remove excess bacteria. And when you brush your teeth, do so carefully and avoid the extraction area.
If you do develop a dry socket, the best thing to do is visit your dentist immediately.
To learn more about dry socket prevention after wisdom teeth removal, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273.