When you have a tooth removed, usually in preparation for a dental implant, your body will create a blood clot, a spongy sort of tissue that protects and heals the socket and the bone beneath. Sometimes, the clot can become dislodged, creating a painful complication known as dry socket. Here are some tips to make sure the clot stays in place so you can continue to heal.
The suction movement of air and cheek muscles when you use a straw may dislodge your blood clot. You should avoid using straws for a few weeks 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 12% of people who smoked after their tooth extraction developed dry socket, compared to only 4% of nonsmokers. This is because the fast inhalation of smoking (and vaping) can dislodge your blood clot. If you’re not interested in permanently quitting smoking, try using a nicotine patch.
Eat Soft Foods
In the days after your extraction, you should eat only soft foods like applesauce, yogurt, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes. Avoid soup, which might cause sucking that may dislodge the blood clot. Also avoid nuts, seeds, crunchy foods such as chips, and sticky foods which might get stuck in your socket.
Keeping your mouth clean as possible will prevent germs and bacteria from breaking down the blood clot. However, you must be very careful to brush as gently as possible so as not to disturb the clot. In the day after surgery, use an antibacterial mouthwash or saltwater rinse instead of brushing.
In the days after oral surgery, it’s important to rest your body so that all its energy can go to healing. Avoid strenuous activities, especially exercise; drink plenty of fluids (with no straws), sleep as often as you need to, and treat swelling and pain with ice and NSAIDs. Most patients are totally healed within a week of surgery.
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