Getting your wisdom teeth extracted can be a disconcerting experience, however the pain and discomfort should only last a few days. If the pain lasts more than a few days, you may be one of 2-5% of people who develop a dry socket after a tooth extraction.
Dry sockets occur when a blood clot has been dislodged or removed within only a few days after you get your wisdom teeth removed. A dislodged blood clot leaves the bone and nerve exposed to air, food, and fluid which can lead to an infection that can last up to six days.
Dry sockets, although easily treatable, can be very painful, and will usually require an extra trip to the oral surgeon for another exam and some prescription anti-inflammatory medicine. To avoid getting dry sockets in the first place, use these five preventative measures post surgery:
Physical activity – Refrain from any type of rigorous activity or exercise for at least a week after your surgery. Sports or any type of strenuous activity may cause blood clots in the socket to dislodge.
Drinks – Drink plenty of water post surgery, and avoid drinking alcoholic, caffeinated, hot, or carbonated beverages in the first 24 hours. It’s also advised to not drink with a straw for at least a week because the sucking may cause the blood clot to dislodge from your socket.
Food – Eat soft foods that require little to no chewing, like yogurt, applesauce, and smoothies, for the first day post surgery. Avoid hard, chewy, and spicy foods that might irritate your socket. You can check out a list of the best foods to eat for wisdom teeth recovery here.
Cleanse – Following surgery you can rinse your mouth and brush your teeth, but you must be careful and avoid the extraction site. After the initial 24 hours, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every 2-3 hours and after meals for one week after your surgery. It’s recommended to mix ½ teaspoon salt for every 8 ounces of water. Cleansing your mouth often will keep your sockets free from debris and reduce the risk of infection.
Tobacco use – Avoid smoking for at least 48 hours after surgery. Avoid chewing tobacco for at least a week after surgery. The use of tobacco after wisdom teeth removal can delay healing and increase the chance of complications.
The majority of people can avoid dry sockets altogether with the proper education and post surgery care. If you’re looking for an oral surgeon who can remove your wisdom teeth and educate you more about this subject, use our surgeon finder tool.