Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a common rite of passage for teens and young adults, and it usually goes smoothly with few complications. Most patients experience some pain and swelling after extraction, but damage to the sockets where the wisdom teeth were once rooted results in the severe pain of dry socket. If you're concerned about dry socket sneaking up on you during recovery, try these five natural techniques for preventing the painful condition.
Rinsing the sockets themselves are a good way to keep food particles and bacteria from interfering with the healing process. Unless your dentist recommends a special rinse with added antibacterial properties, plain water works best. Use a sterile plastic syringe without a needle to spray water around the socket, but don't use much water pressure or you could accidentally damage the blood clot protecting the socket. If you feel like there's food or other debris stuck in the socket that won't rinse away, visit the dentist to have the area checked instead of using the syringe more than once or twice a day.
While you may think that clove oil working for oral complaints is an old wives' tale, it's actually so effective that the oil is widely used in the dentist's office too. You can deal with a sore area that you suspect is developing dry socket by
- trimming off a small piece of sterile gauze and folding it up to the size of the socket,
- adding a few drops of clove oil to the gauze,
- inserting it gently and carefully into the socket area with a pair of tweezers or forceps sterilized with rubbing alcohol.
You can also apply the clove oil by putting the drops on a dampened sterile cotton pad and dabbing it gently around the edges of the socket. Avoid using dry gauze or cotton because it can stick to the clot protecting the socket and pull it loose. Only use the socket stuffing method after verifying that the socket is open and uncovered, and only rely on it for a few hours until you can see a dentist.
Sometimes just staying in bed for another day can make a huge difference in recovery time for procedures like a wisdom tooth removal. While you can do your basic chores the next day after extraction, it's useful to put your workout routine off for a few days and to skip heavy lifting tasks until you're healed. Too much vigorous activity could disturb the blood clots covering the sockets and makes it harder for the area to develop a new protective covering.
The only liquids in your mouth during the first 24 hours after extraction should be any dentist-prescribed rinses and fresh drinking water. On the first full day after extraction, start rinsing with small amounts of lukewarm water with salt dissolved in it. You can make this wound-healing saline rinse at home by mixing eight ounces of water to every tablespoon of salt.
Finally, a black tea bag makes a surprisingly good natural compress for encouraging faster clotting and wound healing while also reducing pain by keeping the socket moistened and warm. Use a basic tea bag with the string trimmed off. Soak it in warm water for a minute before placing it over the extraction sites and gently biting down to apply pressure. The tannins immediately go to work encouraging circulation around the site so clotting agents can arrive to seal off the socket. There's no need to steep the tea bag in boiling water like you're making tea since this would extend the time needed for cooling before you can place the bag in your mouth.
For more information about how to handle problems like dry socket, talk to a dentist near you.