6 Tips To Avoid Dry Socket Following Oral Surgery

Following an oral extraction surgery, a blood clot forms in the socket where the tooth was located. This clot protects the underlying nerves and bone while also providing the beginnings of the new tissue that will heal over the site. Dislodging the clot can cause a painful condition known as dry socket. 

1. Put Down the Cigarettes

This includes vape pens or any other smoking product. Although it's good to avoid nicotine when the body is healing, there's a more important reason not to smoke in the days following a surgical tooth extraction. Sucking on a cigarette, pipe, or similar can pull out the blood clot at the extraction site. It doesn't take much suction to disturb the clot, so there really is no safe way to smoke during recovery.

2. Avoid Heavy Activity

Although the rest of your body doesn't need to recover following a tooth extraction, you still need to take it easy. Avoid lifting heavy objects, jumping around, climbing, or anything that could jar the body. The main reason is that overly energetic movements or heavy lifting can dislodge the blood clot that is protecting the nerve at the extraction site. 

3. Avoid Straws and Similar

Sucking a beverage through a straw can pull the clot out of the extraction site. Even light sucking is a risk, so stick to drinking without a straw until the site heals sufficiently that the clot is no longer needed. Even sippy-style water bottles and travel mugs can encourage sucking similar to how one uses a straw, so use care when you drink to make sure you don't suck by accident.

4. Practice Hygiene With Care

Although brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash are normally considered required dental hygiene, you will need to pause your routine for a day or so following extraction surgery. Avoid flossing and mouthwash or water swishing for at least 24 hours, as these activities can disturb the extraction site. You can brush, but do not brush the area around the extraction site as you don't want to dislodge the clot.

5. Don't Blow Your Nose

Your mouth goes through a drastic pressure change when you blow your nose, and that pressure change is sufficient to knock loose the developing blood clot. Dabbing is better than blowing for the day following surgery, or you can use an infant nose bulb to clear your nostrils if the issue is severe. 

6. Eat and Drink With Care

Certain foods and drinks may affect the clot. Carbonated beverages, including sparkling water, are especially problematic as the carbonation bubbles can dislodge the clot. You may also want to avoid any small foods, like corn or peas, that could become stuck in the extraction site.

Talk to your oral surgeon if you have further concerns about dry socket.