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What is dry socket?
When you have a tooth removed, you develop a blood clot over the removal site to protect and heal your underlying bone and nerve endings. This clot must stay in place until your gums have healed and your mouth is back to normal.
Sometimes the clot can become dislodged or not form. If that happens, you’ll experience the painful complication known as a dry socket, or alveolar osteitis. Dry socket is uncomfortable, VERY painful and delays healing. It’s important to try and avoid it.
The blood clot that forms after a tooth removal protects bone and nerve endings. It also helps your gums heal, so you want it to stay in place until you are healed from the surgery.
Dry socket usually occurs because something moves or dissolves the blood clot from the socket. Sometimes dry socket occurs when you never develop the blood clot to begin with.
Here are a few ways you can prevent dry socket:
The suction movement of air and cheek muscles when you use a straw may dislodge your blood clot. You should avoid using straws for one week after your extraction.
People who smoke and use tobacco are at a much higher risk of developing dry socket after tooth extraction. One study found that dry socket occurred in about 12% of people who smoked after a tooth extraction. By comparison, only 1-4 % of those who don’t smoke developed dry socket.
The fast inhalation of smoking can dislodge your blood clot. This applies to smoking anything at all, not just cigarettes ( like vaping and marijuana). That’s because chemicals in other tobacco products prevent healing and lead to an infection.
Reduce your tobacco intake for a couple weeks leading up to a planned surgery. If you need help avoiding tobacco while you recover, or if you’d like to use your dental surgery as a way to kick-start a smoking cessation program, your physician and we may have recommendations.
If you’re not interested in quitting tobacco use, the following tips may help reduce your risk of dry socket:
If you plan to resume tobacco use after your surgery, ask your dentist or oral surgeon when you’re allowed to start.
The first day after your surgery, eat only soft foods like applesauce, yogurt, and mashed potatoes. On the second day you can attempt slightly heartier foods but you should return to soft foods if you experience any pain.
Avoid hard food which may get pushed into the sockets and dislodge the blood clot. Also avoid nuts, seeds, crunchy foods such as chips, and sticky foods which might get stuck in your socket.
Some studies show a link between dry socket and oral contraceptives. Other medications may prevent a proper blood clot from forming.
Keeping your mouth clean is one of the most important ways you can prevent dry socket. Oral hygiene helps prevent germs and bacterial from breaking down the blood clot.
It’s possible you may be prescribed an antibacterial mouthwash to use after surgery.
6. Use of Your Stem Cells/ Blood concentrate: PRF
Platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) and its predecessor, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), are categorized as autologous blood concentrates, which are blood products made using your own blood. Blood is drawn and then we concentrates it using a centrifuge machine to separate the different blood components into individual, concentrated layers that we can use. Although several variations of this technology exist today that prioritize different blood components, the overarching concept in dentistry is the same — we use the your own blood to enhance healing after oral surgery.
It is especially recommended for smokers in particular or for slow healers or patients with certain immunologic conditions.