Avoiding Painful Dry Socket Following Wisdom Teeth Removal

Posted on: 15 May 2015

If you're getting your wisdom teeth removed soon, you're likely being inundated with terrifying stories about the perils of dry socket. While dry socket certainly isn't the most painful thing that can happen to you, it's one of the most painful complications from a wisdom tooth extraction. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that is meant to heal your gums following tooth removal becomes dislodged, exposing the internal nerves and bone to air.

Stick With Soft Foods

You probably already know that you should stay on soft, easily managed foods immediately following the surgery. But you also might want to continue avoiding foods that you need to chew aggressively — such as steak — for a week or two until you're certain that your sockets have started healing. If you do need to chew, try your best to avoid the areas surrounding your extraction.

Don't Skip the Brushing

It can be tempting to avoid brushing anywhere near the extraction. While you should definitely try not to brush the extraction directly, you should not avoid the surrounding gum tissue. Brushing and massaging the surrounding tissue gently will promote growth by increasing blood flow. After you brush, use the tools that your oral surgeon gave you to gently rinse out the sockets. 

Don't Use Straws

You should never use straws following wisdom teeth removal, or perform any other sucking action -- like eating a lollipop -- because the suction could dislodge the clot. Try to avoid these behaviors for at least a couple of weeks following extraction.

Request a Stitching

If you really are concerned about the possibility of dry socket, you can request that the dentist stitch the sockets closed. Your dentist will be able to tell you whether you're a good candidate for this. It often isn't done simply because it's an additional medical procedure which will take longer — and thus, it'll be more expensive and you'll be in the chair for a while. But stitching up the socket will ensure you won't get dry socket and may even help you heal faster. The catch: you'll need to come back to get them removed.

Your oral surgeon can give you more tips on how to avoid dry socket, but sometimes it simply occurs. The best thing to do is contact your dentist as soon as you suspect the clot has dislodged, so that you can receive pain medications as necessary and so that they can rinse out the socket and make sure that you aren't susceptible to infection.