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Home > Dental Conditions > Wisdom Teeth > Preventing Dry Sockets
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Preventing Dry Sockets

Dental dry sockets can be very painful.

Dry socket, or localized osteitis is a post-operative complication after a tooth extraction, often a lower third molar (wisdom tooth). This moderate to severely painful dental condition (7-14 days) is a result of sloughing the blood clot at the extraction site. The most common cause is a disturbance of the clot by oral rinses or agitation that interrupts proper clotting. Other factors may include local infection, surgical trauma, foreign bodies, smoking, pregnancy or systemic disease. Post-extraction use of antibiotics is not likely to prevent or remedy a dry socket. Some clinicians have reduced the incidence of dry sockets by using Terra Cortril® ointment or other medicaments with a resorbable gauze sutured into the socket.

There are remedies available (dry socket paste) that effectively alleviate the mouth pain, but do not necessarily hasten the healing process. It's a remedy that's been used for ages, containing various medicaments. It works wonders! Contact your dentist or oral surgeon if you are experiencing pain from a dental extraction that is not relieved by aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol®.

The incidence of a dry socket is greatly reduced by careful observance of post-extraction instructions:

  1. Use dental gauze, with moderate biting pressure, to stop the bleeding. When changing the gauze, be certain to moisten it first to avoid sticking to the blood clot.
  2. For 24 hours, please do not rinse, brush your teeth, or drink through a straw. Do not play a wind instrument. Avoid physical exercise, especially swimming. Eating soft foods and drinking water should not disturb the clot, but agitation in the mouth may.
  3. Do not disturb the extraction site. Do not attempt to clean the socket. Food debris will not cause harm. After 24 hours, you may resume gentle brushing.
  4. Use ice packs on your face -- on for 10 minutes, off for 10 minutes -- for several hours after the surgery.

To the dismay of physicians, dentists and other members of the health care team, patients often fail to properly follow instructions after oral surgery. If you have any questions, please address them before leaving the doctor's office.

It's never too late to improve your dental health. Call us at 1-866-970-0441 to find the right dentist for you!

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