Socket dry occurs after a tooth has been extracted, when an empty tooth socket loses its protective scab and the nerves are exposed. This condition can be very painful and requires an extra visit to a dentist who specializes in oral surgery. Learn about the precautions you can take before and after your tooth extraction to prevent this condition from happening to you.
Taking Precautions Before Revocation
Find an oral surgeon you can trust. The way a tooth is extracted has a major impact on the occurrence of dry socket. Learn about the extraction procedure and talk to your oral surgeon about what to expect. Make sure you have the information you need to make sure everything runs smoothly. You can expect the following preventive treatments from your oral surgeon:
Your oral surgeon will provide you with a mouthwash and gel designed to help the socket heal properly.
The oral surgeon will also drain your wound with an antiseptic solution and cover the wound with a bandage to protect it after the extraction is complete.
Find out if the medications you are taking will have an effect on tooth extraction. Certain medications, purchased with or without a prescription, can inhibit blood clotting, thereby preventing a protective scab from forming in your empty socket.
Birth control pills increase a woman’s risk of dry socket.
If you are a woman taking birth control pills, it may help to schedule a tooth extraction on days 23 – 28 of your cycle, when your estrogen levels are low.
Quit smoking a few days before the tooth extraction. Smoking, as well as chewing tobacco or using other tobacco products, can affect the healing process of your sockets. Consider using a nicotine patch or other replacement product for a few days, as smoking cigarettes can greatly increase your chances of dry socket.
Taking Precautions After Tooth Extraction
Clean your mouth. Since your mouth may have stitches or open sores, it will need to be thoroughly cleaned during the first few days. Do not brush your teeth, use dental floss, or mouthwash, or rinse your mouth in any way for 24 hours. After that, follow this routine:
Gargle with salt water every two hours and after every meal.
Brush your teeth gently, being careful not to touch the sores in your mouth.
Use dental floss carefully without going near the cut in your mouth.
Get plenty of rest. Let your body’s energy focus on healing, not on other activities. In the first few days after a tooth extraction, your mouth can become swollen and painful, so it shouldn’t be difficult to take a few days off work or school so you can rest.
Do not talk too much. Don’t move your mouth as much as the socket begins to scab and the swelling begins to subside.
Don’t do unnecessary exercise. Lie down or sit on the couch for the first 24 hours, then do some light walking for the next few days.
Avoid drinks other than water. Drink lots of cool water after tooth extraction, but avoid drinks that can interfere with the healing process. That means avoiding the following drinks:
Coffee, soda, and other drinks that contain caffeine.
Wine, beer, alcohol, and other beverages that contain alcohol.
Soda, diet soda, and other carbonated drinks.
Hot tea, hot water, and other drinks that are warm or hot, as these drinks can loosen the scabs that form in the sockets.
Do not use a straw to drink. The sucking motion puts pressure on the wound, and may prevent the scab from forming.
Eat soft foods. Chewing hard food is a surefire way to break down the scabs that are preventing your fragile nerves from being exposed. Eat mashed potatoes, soup, applesauce, yogurt, and other soft foods for the first few days. Upgrade to semi-soft foods when you can eat them without feeling sick. Avoid the following foods until the sores in your mouth have completely healed:
Tough food, such as steak and chicken.
Sticky foods, such as toffee and caramel.
Hard foods, such as apples and potato chips.
Spicy foods, which can irritate the sores in your mouth and prevent them from healing.
Avoid smoking as long as possible. Do not smoke for the first 24 hours after tooth extraction. If you can wait a few more days after that, your mouth sores will heal faster. Do not chew tobacco until at least a week after tooth extraction.
Call Your Dentist if You Have Dry Sockets
Find out if your socket is dry. Pain alone is not a definite indication you have dry socket. However, if you notice increased pain within two days of the tooth extraction, plus other symptoms of dry socket, your socket is probably dry. Watch out for the following signs:
Bone exposed. Look inside your mouth at the wound area. If you don’t see a scab, and you see exposed bone instead, you have a dry socket.
Smelly breath. Bad breath coming from your mouth can be an indication that the sores inside your mouth are not healing properly.
Immediately check back to the dentist. Dry sockets should be treated by your dentist or oral surgeon to ensure they heal properly. The dentist will cover the wound with ointment and bandages to increase cell formation in the area. You may also be prescribed additional painkillers to manage the increasing pain, which can spread from your mouth to your ears.
Carefully follow the doctor’s instructions on how to care for dry sockets. Do not smoke, do not eat hard / tough food, or other things that can make your condition worse.
You may be asked to go to the dentist every day to change the bandage on the sores inside your mouth.
Eventually, new skin will form in the socket, covering the bone and protecting the nerves. It can take a month or even longer for it to heal completely.