If you have a wisdom tooth extraction scheduled sometime in the near future, then your dentist has probably informed you that the procedure is a routine one. Even though this is true, there are some complications associated with wisdom tooth removal. Dry socket is one of them. This condition occurs when the blood clots that sit in the empty tooth sockets dislodge. This leaves the nerves and the jawbone exposed, and this can create a great deal of pain. Dry socket is likely to occur within the first three to four days after wisdom teeth are removed, so make sure to avoid the condition with the following tips.
Avoid Blood Thinning Compounds
Many people take blood thinning or anti-clotting medications to help reduce stroke and heart attack risks. Heparin and Warfarin are two examples of these types of drugs. Unfortunately, these medications can cause blood clotting issues and lead to a dry socket condition. If your circulation or heart problems are not severe, then speak with your general physician to see if your medication can be reduced or stopped completely for a few days before and after your wisdom tooth extraction.
Your dentist may also ask you to have blood taken so tests can be performed that include prothrombin time and normalized ration tests. These tests determine how long it takes your blood to clot. If these tests indicate that it does not take a long time for clotting to occur, then your dentist may go ahead and complete the extraction while you continue to take the anticoagulant or blood thinning medications. However, you will likely need to keep compresses on the empty sockets for a longer period of time to make sure that solid clots are able to form.
Along with stopping or reducing prescription medications, you should also avoid foods and other substances that can naturally thin the blood for a few days before and after your extraction appointment. Aspirin is one thing that needs to be avoided. Also, foods that are high in vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and salicylates can also thin the blood. Foods high in vitamin E include spinach, almonds, swiss chard, kale, and hazelnuts, and ones that contain omega-3 fatty acids include fish, walnuts, and olive oil. Salicylate containing foods include citrus fruits, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, vinegar, and peppermint.
Do Not Smoke
Your dentist will likely inform you not to use a straw or suck on hard candy or any other substance after your wisdom tooth extraction. These types of sucking behaviors can cause the blood clots in your mouth to dislodge. Along with these things, you should not smoke after the extraction. Not only will cigarette smoking cause you to use your mouth to suck, but some of the substances in tobacco act as anticoagulants. Both of these things can cause dry socket issues.
While it may be difficult to quit smoking entirely, this is best to reduce complications after your wisdom tooth extraction. To help with quitting, drink plenty of water to help flush the nicotine out of your system and to quench your oral fixation. Also, reduce stress and cravings by taking long and quiet baths, meditating, and using slow breathing techniques. If you find that cravings are too much, then nicotine replacement therapy may work for you. A nicotine patch will work well since you cannot chew gum after a wisdom tooth extraction. Consider purchasing a 24 hour patch so cravings are controlled more consistently and go with a high nicotine product that releases 21 milligrams of nicotine a day. Keep in mind that the patch will take about three hours to start releasing nicotine into your body once it is secured on the skin, so be patient when you first start using it.
For more information about wisdom teeth extractions and avoiding dry sockets during recovery, contact an experienced dentist like Dale D. Lentz DDS.