One of the most common complications of wisdom teeth removal is a condition called dry socket. This occurs when the clot that forms in the socket after a tooth is removed dislodges before the gum tissue underneath has fully healed. Dry socket can be quite painful, so it's a good idea to take proactive steps to lower your risk of developing it as much as possible. Follow these five tips to help yourself heal without complications after having your wisdom teeth taken out.
1. Don't Smoke
Smoking is one of the major causes of dry socket. Dentists recommend that all patients refrain from smoking for a minimum of 24 hours after their extraction procedure. However, the healing process can take longer than 24 hours, so it's a good idea to stay off the cigarettes for longer, if you can.
2. Don't Touch
Touching the extraction site can easily dislodge the fragile clot that forms in the socket. Keep your fingers, tongue and all objects away from the extraction site while it is healing. Try to chew on the other side of your mouth, or stick to soft foods like soup that do not require chewing.
3. Stay Away From Soda
Carbonated soft drinks are bad news for healing sockets. The bubbles in these kinds of drinks can encourage blood clots to dissolve, exposing the sore tissue underneath. Immediately after your procedure, it's best to stick to non-carbonated drinks like plain water or tea. However, you should take care to let your tea cool slightly before you drink it, as very hot beverages can irritate gums that have been sensitised by having your wisdom teeth out.
4. Don't Drink Through Straws
During the healing period, you need to avoid creating sucking forces inside your mouth, as these can dislodge the clot. Avoid sucking drinks through straws or sucking on cigarettes or sweets. Instead, take small sips from a cup or glass to keep yourself hydrated.
5. Talk to Your Dentist If You Take the Contraceptive Pill
The female sex hormone oestrogen, which is used in many brands of the contraceptive pill, can increase your risk of developing dry socket. Let your dentist know about the pill and any other medications you are taking when you discuss having your wisdom teeth taken out. It may be possible to schedule the extraction during the pill withdrawal week, when the risk of dry socket is slightly lower.