For most dental patients, wisdom tooth removal is not a particularly complex or risky procedure. However, there is one complication you need to look out for after wisdom tooth removal surgery: dry socket. Dry socket occurs when there is an interruption in the blood clot that seals off the surgical site. If the blood clot becomes partially or fully dislodged, it will expose the nerves in your tooth, causing severe pain. Dry socket also means you'll need to start the healing process all over again. Thankfully, there are several ways to prevent this painful complication; here are five of the best tips.
1. Avoid straws at all cost
If you do not want to experience dry socket, avoid straws. Many patients mistakenly think that drinking with a straw will help the surgery site heal, keeping fluids away from the missing tooth. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. The sucking motion used to drink through a straw can actually pull your blood clot away from your jaw, immediately causing dry socket.
2. Stop smoking or using tobacco
If you're a smoker, you'll also need to stop smoking for several weeks after your wisdom tooth surgery. Like drinking through a straw, smoking involves a sucking motion that can dislodge your blood clot. On top of this, tobacco smoke contains many toxins and chemicals that can irritate the surgical site and interfere with the healing process.
3. Turn to soft food
Consuming soft, easy-to-chew food can make healing after wisdom teeth removal significantly easier. Avoid foods that are hard to bite and chew, such as corn on the cob and steak, as well as crunchy foods that can break apart. These foods are far more likely to dislodge your blood clot and cause dry socket. Instead, try to eat more foods that have been mashed up or pureed, or stick to foods that already require minimal chewing. Some people find it easiest to eat foods that are naturally soft in texture, such as pudding and yogurt.
4. Follow proper dental hygiene
One of the best ways to ensure you will not be getting dry socket after a wisdom tooth removal is to keep your mouth clean. Good dental hygiene will make sure that any germs or infections will stay away from the blood clot. Just remember to avoid your wisdom tooth removal site while brushing, as toothbrush bristles can also cause dry socket.
5. Follow your dentist's advice
Last but certainly not least, you should always follow your dentist's advice on how to best care for your teeth in the weeks following wisdom tooth removal. Every patient is different, so some people may have additional requirements to follow in order to prevent dry socket.
To learn more about wisdom teeth removals, contact a dentist.