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Can Kids Get a Dry Socket After Dental Surgery?

Brunette young girl with braided hair softly smiles as she recovers from dental surgery and hopes to avoid dry sockets

Any time your child has dental surgery, it is critical to follow our post-operative tips and instructions to ensure a smooth recovery. As your child heals, you should carefully monitor their pain level and their surgical site so you can quickly detect any abnormal changes and signs of infection. With the right care, you can help prevent your child from developing painful complications after surgery. Read on to learn about dry sockets, one such complication, and how to reduce your child’s risk.

What Is a Dry Socket?

A dry socket can sometimes develop after a tooth extraction and delay healing for 7-10 days. When we remove a tooth, a blood clot is supposed to form in the empty socket. This blood clot facilitates growth of new tissue and helps protect the underlying bones and nerves. If this clot fails to form properly or if it dislodges before healing is complete, it causes a very painful condition called a dry socket, in which the extraction site becomes irritated and inflamed. Although an infection could have contributed to the dry socket’s occurrence, a dry socket is not always accompanied by an infection. However, accumulation of bacteria and food debris in the now open socket can potentially lead to an infection.

Tips to Protect Your Child From a Dry Socket

To help prevent the development of a dry socket, carefully follow our recovery instructions. Patients should take care not to dislodge or otherwise damage their delicate blood clot. Keep in mind that in some cases a dry socket develops no matter how well you care for your child’s mouth, but if you follow our tips, you can rest assured you’re doing all you can to protect your child.

  • First and foremost, we ask our recovering patients not to use straws or sippy cups. The suction is a common culprit in dislodging blood clots.
  • Help your child avoid chewing on or sucking their fingers, lips, and cheeks.
  • Encourage your child to chew on the opposite side from their surgical site for at least 24 hours.
  • Don’t give your child sharp or hard foods, such as crackers and chips, that may dig into their blood clot.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and that their meals are filled with nutrient-rich, soft foods, such as eggs, finely chopped cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, pureed soup, smoothies, and low-sugar yogurt.
  • Encourage your child to rest the day of their surgery, and then to take it easy for a few days by limiting vigorous activity, such as swimming, jumping, running, and roughhousing.
  • Do not let your child vigorously rinse or spit for the first 24 hours. After the first day, help them gently rinse their mouth with a mixture of a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a glass of lukewarm water after meals to clean their extraction site.

What to Do If Your Child Develops a Dry Socket

If you believe your child has developed a dry socket, call our office immediately. Often, we will recommend an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce your child’s pain and inflammation. Our team can also carefully clean the area and apply a special dressing. If there is infection, we may take other measures, such as prescribing antibiotics.

We Are Here to Aid Your Child’s Recovery!

To ask our Tots to Teens Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics team any other questions about your child’s recovery from dental surgery, or to schedule their next visit to our office, contact us today.


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