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27 February 2019

Tooth extraction aftercare advice from your Surbiton dentist.

Thanks to modern dentistry, there are now a wide range of treatments available that can be used to restore a damaged or decayed tooth, and ultimately, enable the patient to keep the natural tooth for many years to come. Sometimes though, this is not possible, or if it were, the prognosis is so poor that it is simply better to remove the tooth altogether.

Most of us will have teeth extracted with no problems. Occasionally though, a dry socket can follow the procedure. When it does, it can be quite painful and you will need to see the dentist. In today’s blog, we take a look at how and why you should try to avoid a painful dry socket.

Immediately following extraction

When a tooth is extracted, as you would expect, the area from which it has been removed starts to bleed, sometimes quite markedly. To simply leave it to bleed until it heals itself would be fairly unpleasant (and messy) for the patient, and so we take action to stop this flow as soon as the tooth has been taken out. Whilst, in a few more complex cases such as some wisdom teeth extractions, stitches may be required, this usually isn’t the case with relatively straightforward extractions and a gentler method is used to stem the blood flow. To do this, we place a piece of sterile gauze on the area. This is then kept in place for just a few minutes to allow a blood clot to form. It is this which starts the healing process of that area.

When we are happy that a clot has formed, you will be free to leave our Surbiton dental surgery. Just in case the clot does becomes dislodged, we will also provide some spare gauze for you  to repeat the process. If this problem continues though; whilst you can also use a clean handkerchief for this purpose, you should contact the Confidental Clinic to let us know and potentially allow us to take a look to make sure that there isn’t an underlying problem.

Why do blood clots become dislodged?

Whilst a few blood clots may simply fall out, the vast majority do so due to human interference. One of the most common reasons is when patients can’t resist the temptation to see what it feels like if they poke at it with their tongue or even their finger. If you do this, there is every chance that the blood clot will come out, especially in the first few days.

Another problem is when patients brush their teeth. You should never use a toothbrush on the area as that is an almost guarantee that the clot will become dislodged. Having said that, it is very important to keep the area clean. This can be done by using a warm (not hot) saline solution which is tipped gently over the area a few times a day.

Other things that can cause the clot to become dislodged are ‘violent’ actions of the mouth, such as spitting or coughing. When you brush your teeth or use the saline solution, try not to spit it out for a few days, and instead, allow it to fall from your mouth, over the sink. Doing so will greatly reduce the chances of it coming out.

How important is the blood clot?

The answer is very important. Not only will it stop the blood flow and start the healing, but it also helps to protect the wound from becoming infected. For this reason, we do encourage our patients to take good care to do all that they can not to dislodge it.

Dry tooth socket

A dry socket occurs when the clot is dislodged and is not replaced. When this happens, it leaves an empty socket which can expose the jawbone and the nerves at the bottom of it. This can feel painful and also increases the likelihood of an infection.

What to do if you have a dry socket?

The best way to prevent this problem is to take care not to dislodge the clot, as mentioned before. If this should happen though, the most important thing that you can do is to let us know straight away. We will then arrange an appointment for you to see us as soon as we possibly can. The dentist will then clean the wound and insert a special dressing into the wound which will allow it to heal.

We may need to see you to monitor the healing progress if you have to have this done. If we ask you to do this, please make sure that you keep your appointments.

Whether you are a private or NHS patient at the Confidental Clinic, you can be sure that you are in good hands. Our experienced team will make sure that you receive any treatment that you need and full aftercare instructions will be given, following your procedure.

If you need to call our Surbiton clinic for an appointment, whether for a dry socket problem or anything else, you can do so on 020 8399 1291. Our team will be pleased to assist.

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