PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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 discuss with you the following medications that may help prevent dry socket:
- Antibacterial mouthwashes or gels immediately before and after surgery
- Oral antibiotics, particularly for people with compromised immune systems
- Antiseptic solutions applied to the wound
- Medicated dressings applied after surgery
What you can do before surgery
You can take the following steps to help prevent dry socket:
- Seek a dentist or oral surgeon with experience in tooth extractions.
- If you take oral contraceptives, schedule your extraction, if possible, during days 23 to 28 of your menstrual cycle, when estrogen levels are lower.
- Stop smoking and the use of other tobacco products at least 24 hours before tooth extraction surgery. 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 that 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 24 hours. 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. Don't brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, spit or use a mouthwash during the first 24 hours after the surgery. After that time, 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. After the first 24 hours, resume brushing your teeth, being particularly gentle near the surgical wound.
- Tobacco use. If you smoke, don't do so for at least 24 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.
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