Your first two sets of molars are usually no problem. It’s the third set that can get you into trouble. This set of molars, better known as your wisdom teeth, generally appear in the back of your mouth in your late teens or early 20s.
If your wisdom teeth come in straight, it’s not a problem, but if they’re crooked or impacted (which means they can’t break through your gums), you need to have them removed — this is the case with about 85% of the population.
Most of the time, the removal is straightforward and doesn’t cause any complications. Up to 5% of the population, though, can develop a condition called alveolar osteitis, or dry socket.
When you have a tooth removed, you lose the protection for the bone and nerve endings under the tooth, so a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the area. The clot should stay in place until your gums have healed, but sometimes it becomes dislodged, causing dry socket.
Symptoms of dry socket, which usually show up a couple of days after surgery, include throbbing or radiating pain, a bad taste in your mouth, and an opening where the clot should be.
You need to plan ahead to avoid this painful condition. Here are a few tips to help, courtesy of the team at Smile Design Manhattan, in the Midtown West neighborhood of New York City.
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to dry socket is any type of suction that could pull the blood clots out of the sockets. The air from the straw and the motion your mouth makes when drinking from a straw can easily dislodge the clots, and the same goes for smoking.
In addition, tobacco can disrupt and delay the healing process, so you should try to reduce your smoking before your surgery and then stop completely after the surgery. Nicotine patches may help in this effort.
After your surgery, you should only eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes, yogurt, broth, ice cream, and smoothies. Avoid crunchy and hard foods that require a lot of chewing for a week or so after surgery — they could dislodge a blood clot and get stuck in its place.
It’s especially important to brush your teeth and keep your mouth clean after surgery to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and causing infection. Brush gently but regularly in the days after your surgery. You can also rinse your mouth with salt water and antibacterial mouthwash.
While you sleep is when your body heals best, so make sure to get plenty of shut-eye following your wisdom teeth extraction.
Try not to talk much for the first day or so, and avoid exercising for a few days after surgery — an elevated heart rate can also cause increased bleeding and complications.
If you need to explore wisdom teeth extraction or have questions about an upcoming extraction, feel free to contact Smile Design Manhattan to set up a consultation. Call the office or request your appointment online.