How to prevent dry socket
Your dentist or oral surgeon will take a number of steps to ensure proper healing of the socket and to prevent dry socket. You'll be instructed on steps you can take to prevent the complication.
What your dentist or oral surgeon may do
Your dentist or oral surgeon may talk with you about these medications, which may help prevent dry socket:
- Antibacterial mouthwashes or gels immediately before and after surgery
- Oral antibiotics, particularly if you have a compromised immune system
- Antiseptic solutions applied to the wound
- Medicated dressings applied after surgery
What you can do before surgery
You can take these steps to help prevent dry socket:
- Seek a dentist or oral surgeon with experience in tooth extractions.
- If applicable, try to stop smoking before your extraction because smoking and using other tobacco products increase your risk of dry socket. Consider talking to your doctor or dentist about a program to help you quit permanently.
- Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about any prescription or over-the-counter medications or supplements you're taking, as they may interfere with blood clotting.
What you can do after surgery
You'll receive instructions about what to expect during the healing process after a tooth extraction and how to care for the wound. These instructions will likely address the following issues, which can help prevent dry socket:
- Activity. After your surgery, plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Resume normal activities the next day, but for at least a week, avoid rigorous exercise and sports that might result in dislodging the blood clot in the socket.
- Beverages. Drink lots of water after the surgery. Don't drink alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages in the first 24 hours. Don't drink with a straw for at least a week because the sucking action may dislodge the blood clot in the socket.
- Food. Eat only soft foods, such as yogurt or applesauce, for the first day. Start eating semisoft foods when you can tolerate them. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate the wound.
- Cleaning your mouth. Following surgery, you may gently rinse your mouth and brush your teeth, but avoid the extraction site. After the first 24 hours, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours while awake and after meals for a week after your surgery. Mix 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of water.
- Tobacco use. If you smoke, don't do so for at least 48 hours after surgery. If you chew tobacco, don't use it for at least a week. Any use of tobacco products after oral surgery can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.