When you get your wisdom teeth extracted, it is important to properly care for the extraction site to avoid the dreaded “dry socket.” After a tooth is extracted, your body forms a blood clot over the site to protect the exposed bone and nerve endings. Dry socket is a painful condition that occurs when the clot dislodges and leaves the extraction site exposed, causing pain, discomfort, and a delay in healing. When all goes well, most patients are feeling back to normal after a week or so. Dr. Abtin Shahriari has some helpful tips to ensure a smooth recovery after getting your wisdom teeth removed at Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery.
Stay Away From Straws
Using a straw may seem like much, but it can be catastrophic for the healing process after getting your wisdom teeth extracted. When you use a straw, the cheek muscles create a vacuum of sorts; the combination of the muscles tensing and the suction of air can easily dislodge your protective blood clot. We recommend avoiding straws for a week after your procedure.
Don’t Smoke Or Use Tobacco Products
People who smoke and use tobacco place themselves at a much higher risk of dry socket after their wisdom teeth extraction. Not only can the quick inhalation of smoke dislodge the clot, just like using a straw, but the chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products may delay healing or even cause an infection.
Of course, we recommend using your wisdom teeth extraction as a launch-point to quit the use of tobacco products, and we’ll help guide you towards resources to help you stop. But if you don’t plan on quitting, we suggest you try to reduce your tobacco intake for a few days or even weeks leading up to the surgery to make the healing process easier.
For the first 48 hours after your extraction, refrain from smoking all together. If necessary, we suggest trying a nicotine patch, during this time. Don’t resort to nicotine gum or chewing tobacco, as the chemicals can still negatively impact the healing process. When you do start smoking again, inhale gently.
Stick To Soft Foods
On the first day or two after surgery, stick to eating soft foods like applesauce, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and other similarly textured foods. Stay away from soup, however, as eating soup sometimes requires a similar sucking motion as using a straw, and has potential to dislodge the clot. On the second day, you can attempt foods that are slightly heartier, but go slow, and if it causes you pain, switch back to the softer diet. For the week or so after the extraction, continue to avoid crunchy or sticky foods, like nuts, chips, or candy, that might get trapped in the empty socket.
Ask About Medicine Interactions
Make sure you tell Dr. Shahriari about any medications you’re taking, as certain medicines, like oral contraceptives, can stop you from forming the all-important blood clot.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
The best way to ensure your mouth stays healthy and heals properly after getting your wisdom teeth extracted is to keep your mouth clean. Good hygiene practices help prevent bacteria from building up and causing infection that can lead to dry socket.
Dr. Shahriari will provide you with guidance on how to best care for your oral health after the procedure. He may prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash, or suggest lightly brushing after 24 hours. Don’t use gauze pads unless directed to do so.