So, you have just undergone a tooth extraction. All the pain and anxiety (mostly anxiety alone) have ended. You’re given medications, some gauze and maybe a pat at the back for being a good patient. Now what?
While most people go through a tooth extraction without any complication, some may feel immense pain or discomfort after a couple of days. This is an incident of dry socket, and while it could be due to operator’s error, more often than not it is caused by some mistakes that a patient does unknowingly. This is good news, because it means the chances of developing dry socket can be greatly reduced by a few simple steps!
Why these steps, you may ask. Well, the main idea is to allow a blood clot to form within the extraction socket so as to prevent exposed bone from being infected. After extraction, blood will fill into the socket and slowly forms a clot. Failure to do so leaves the socket empty and dry (hence the term dry socket).
Biting on a gauze creates firm pressure to promote blood clot and prevent excessive bleeding. Slight oozing of blood should be expected and is normal within the first 24 hours. Patients are advised not to pool saliva in the mouth as bleeding may appear worse when mixed with saliva. At the same time, rinsing or spitting out blood/saliva is not advisable as doing so will prevent blood from clotting.
While drinking with a straw may seem to be an easy choice, it is not advisable as the sucking action produces a negative pressure in the mouth which will again, dislodge the clot. Use a spoon instead. The same reason applies for smoking, in addition to the heat factor during smoking which may induce bleeding.
Take it easy after a tooth extraction. Avoid strenous activities. Rest. Maintain oral hygiene with proper tooth brushing and use of mouthrinse (24 hours after extraction). Pain or discomfort should reduce daily and before you know it, you’re on the next dental appointment to replace the missing tooth! =)