Dr. Hall, I recently got 2 lower wisdom teeth removed (no issue other than that they were wisdom teeth and hence could have created problems in the future) and one lower left (19) molar removed as I had a root canal on it but now the cap came off so my dentist recommended a dental implant. Today is the 7th day after my surgery – I am doing ok. Statistically speaking, do I now have a very little chance of getting dry rot/any infection/complication or should I stay alert to infections? If yes, then for how many days? What precautions should I take? I only started taking semi-solid foods today.
– Jane from Massachusetts
When you say “dry rot,” I assume you’re meaning to ask about dry socket, which is a frequent complication of wisdom tooth extraction. Dry socket, if it happens, will happen two or three days after the surgery. If you have made it to seven days, you are in the clear. Dry socket is characterized by an intense pain. The surgical site has started to feel better, it’s two or three days after the surgery, and then you get this dramatic increase in pain. Some dentists believe that it is caused by sucking the blood clot out of the socket, but they are confusing the symptoms with the cause. The symptom is that there is no blood clot in the socket. The cause is a breakdown in the bone of the socket, and occurs more often with difficult extractions of lower wisdom teeth where the dentist had to put a lot of pressure on the tooth to get it out, which compresses that bony socket. Putting a clindamycin dressing in the socket right after the extraction makes it much less likely that you’ll get a dry socket.
Another common complication is post-operative infection. If the surgical site gets infected, that is also likely to happen in the first few days after the extraction. So if you’re in your seventh day, it should be mostly uphill from here!
– Dr. Hall
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