You don’t want a dry socket after a tooth extraction, and there are six definite clues that you might have developed this potentially dangerous condition.
After a tooth extraction, a blood clot will form over the bone: Part of the healing process and it will occur rather quickly.
Because the wound is fresh, the clot is still soft and can easily be dislodged.
When it’s moved out of place, even partially, it’s possible for a dry socket to occur.
About Dry Sockets
One of the main symptoms of a dry socket, which is also called alveolar osteitis, is pain.
This may be felt a couple of days after the extraction and may be considerable.
Since the clot no longer covers the cavity in the absence of the tooth, the bone and nerves are exposed.
The exposure to the air creates pain because food, liquids and air can get into the space left by the tooth and will irritate the exposed nerves and bone.
This condition can occur after a tooth is extracted, especially the wisdom teeth.
Once the pain starts, it’s doubtful any over-the-counter medication will be effective.
Food can become trapped in the socket, which will lead to severe pain — but can also lead to an infection. The danger is that the infection can get into the bone and spread.
Dry Socket Symptoms Include:
• Severe pain at the site of the extraction – there will be no doubt about the pain.
• Loss of the dental blood clot – either completely or partially
• The bone will be visible in the socket.
• An unpleasant taste
• Pain that radiates from the socket to your ear, eye, temple or neck
• Bad breath
Dry sockets occur in two to five percent of dental patients.
Treatment for Dry Socket
You can try to bear with it for the duration, usually for about five or six days.
A simple and much more acceptable solution for pain relief is treatment from your dentist. The dentist will first examine the socket and then clean out any trapped food.
Afterward, the dentist will apply a medicated compress with pain reliever in it. In most cases it will provide relief almost instantly.
The dentist may also recommend some dressing changes. You will likely also need a pain prescription for a few days until the wound can heal, and possibly some antibiotics.
You may also be given some instruction on how to wash out the socket, along with a syringe made of plastic.
Dry Socket Prevention
• Quit smoking. Tobacco slows healing by reducing blood flow and oxygen in the gums.
• Limit physical activity after surgery. Plan on relaxing and do not exert yourself – which could dislodge the clot.
• Avoid drinking hot or acidic liquids. These may dissolve the clot. This includes hot tea, coffee, cocoa and acidic drinks such as orange juice, sodas and other fruit juices.
• Stay away from hard foods that might get stuck in the socket such as nuts, chips, pretzels and hard candy.
• Do not drink through a straw. This action, along with slurping soup, may dislodge the clot.
• Do not rinse your mouth vigorously.
• Stay away from alcohol and any mouthwash using alcohol.
• Continue to brush your teeth and floss, but avoid the socket area.
• If you’re using oral contraceptives, consult with your dentist prior to the extraction. Oral contraceptives increase the risk of dry socket.
Dr. Vadivel, DDS, is a board certified periodontal surgeon, and Founder-CEO of Implants & Gumcare of Texas, offering affordable restorative and cosmetic dental procedures. Dr. Vadivel has over 25 years of experience.