If you are preparing to have your wisdom teeth taken out, you might be worried about the risk of complications, such as dry socket. This is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot that protects a tooth extraction site shifts out of place before the tissue is fully healed. The good news is that you can take action to protect yourself against dry socket with these five simple tips.
1. Schedule Your Extraction Carefully
If you take the contraceptive pill, your risk of developing dry socket could be greater than average, due to the effects of the female hormone oestrogen on blood clotting. However, the risk drops during your withdrawal week, when you stop taking the active pills and have a period-like bleed. Let your dentist know that you take the pill and ask him to schedule your extraction during the week when your risk of developing dry socket is lowest.
2. Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking—even only temporarily—can reduce your risk of dry socket. Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco contain harmful chemicals that interfere with healing. Dentists recommend abstaining from smoking for at least 24 hours after having a wisdom tooth taken out. The longer you can stay away from smoking, the better the overall impact on your oral health.
3. Don't Touch
No matter how curious you are about the rate of healing of your gums, you must resist the temptation to prod and poke. Don't touch the clot with your fingers, your tongue, or any other object. Clots in extraction sites are very delicate and easy to dislodge, which can be very painful.
4. Don't Dissolve Your Clot
After getting your wisdom teeth taken out, you might be looking forward to enjoying your favourite soft drink. However, the bubbles in many soft drinks can dissolve clots, causing you to develop dry socket. Stick to water for a few days after the extraction.
5. No Straws
If you're bored by drinking plain water, you might want to use a straw to make yourself feel a little more special. Unfortunately, this is a bad idea. Sucking on a straw can create pressure in the mouth that can pull the clot out of the socket. You also need to be careful when rinsing your mouth and spitting the liquid out, as this can create similar forces. The more careful you are, the greater your chance of an uncomplicated recovery from wisdom teeth extraction.