When a tooth is extracted or removed from the gums and the bones, the blood clots form a protective shield to keep your gums safe as it heals. Should the blood not clot properly or becomes dislodged from your gums during the healing process, it tends to create a dry socket. A dry socket is also known as alveolar osteitis.
A dry socket can expose the nerves and the bones in your gums, so it is crucial to seek medical attention from your dental health expert. It can be significantly painful, if left unattended, and can lead to serious complications including:
- Delayed healing
- Infection in the socket
- Infection that spreads to the bone
Who Gets Dry Socket?
If you’ve recently had a tooth extracted, you’re susceptible to developing a dry socket. Although dry socket is one of the most common complications of tooth removal, it’s still comparatively rare.
In a 2016 study researchers found that about 42 out of 2,281 teeth under observation seemed to experience some amount of dry socket. This brings the incidence rate to just 1.8 percent.
The category of tooth extraction you undergo decides how susceptible you are to experiencing dry sockets. While still rare, the chances are that dry sockets will develop after your wisdom teeth or other molars are extracted as compared to other teeth.
If you’ve experienced a dry socket before, the chances are you will probably experience it again. Inform your dentist or oral surgeon about your history with dry sockets prior to your planned tooth extraction.
Although your dentist can’t do much to prevent it from occurring, informing them however will speed up the treatment process if a dry socket develops.
If you happen to see a visible bone where your tooth used to be when you look into your open mouth in a mirror, you are possibly experiencing a dry socket.
Another tell-tale sign of a dry socket is shooting pain in your jaw for no reason at all. It’s usually felt on the same side as the tooth extraction site 2 to 3 days after the procedure. However, dry sockets might occur at any time during the healing span. Other probable symptoms comprise bad breath and a lingering unpleasant taste in your mouth. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it is your cue to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
What Does It Feel Like?
A dry socket is usually known to cause steady yet throbbing pain. The pain can be severe and is often not completely relieved by over-the-counter or prescription pain-killing drugs. It might also lead to being unable to work or concentrate on other important jobs.
Shooting pain from a dry socket may radiate from the extraction site to various other places. That includes:
If you happen to have a dry socket, you might also experience severe or mild pain when you drink a cold beverage or breathe in cold air.
If you’re experiencing signs and symptoms of a dry socket, your dentist will want to examine you in person and look at the empty socket to discuss the proceeding steps.
In a few cases, your dentist might also recommend an X-ray to strike out conditions other than dry sockets. This comprises bone infection (osteomyelitis) or the probability that the root and the bone fragments are still present in the extraction site.
A dry socket can start to take shape if, a protective blood clot doesn’t form in the open space, after the extraction of the tooth.
A dry socket might also show up if this blood clot becomes dislodged from your gums.
Researchers are yet to have a conclusive answer to what prevents this blood clotting. It could be a case of bacterial contamination, whether from food, liquid, or other things that enter the mouth, which might lead to dry sockets.
Trauma to the area can also cause a dry socket. This tends to occur during complex tooth extraction procedures or during aftercare. Accidentally poking the area with your toothbrush, for instance, might seem to disrupt the socket’s healing procedure.
You’re more susceptible to a dry socket if:
You Smoke Cigarettes or Use Other Tobacco Products.
The chemicals might not only slow the healing process and contaminate or poison the wound, but the act of inhaling the smoke can also dislodge the blood clot.
You Take Oral Contraceptives.
Certain birth control pills contain high amounts of estrogen, which might possibly disturb the healing process.
You Don’t Care for The Wound Properly.
Not abiding by your dentist’s instructions for at-home care or not maintaining a good oral and dental hygiene regimen might also lead to dry sockets.
Cleaning And Dressing the Area
If you happen to have a dry socket, your dentist will probably clean the socket and ensure that it is free of food and residual particles. This might alleviate any pain; however, it will also help prevent infection.
Your dentist might also pack the socket to help numb the pain with a medicated dressing or paste.
If there happens to a dressing that needs to be removed, you’ll have to revisit your dentist after a few days. The dressing might need to be changed if the pain is still as much. Otherwise, you might also be allowed to remove it at home and clean the socket again.
Your dentist will probably prescribe saltwater or medicated rinse. They might also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection or further contamination in the area.
Over-the-counter pain-killing drugs might aid to relieve any discomfort or pain. Your dentist will probably prescribe a particular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
It’s always wise to steer clear from consuming aspirin, as it’s an NSAID that might lead to more bleeding in the area.
A cold compress might also provide some temporary relief.
If your pain happens to be more severe, your dentist might prescribe a pain reliever.
The chances are that you will have a follow-up appointment about a week post your extraction. Your dentist will re-examine the affected area and discuss any preceding steps.
Purchase some ibuprofen to help relieve pain and discomfort.
How To Prevent
You can bring down your risk of getting a dry socket by taking the following steps before the extraction procedure:
Ensure That Your Dentist or Oral Surgeon Is Experienced with This Type of Procedure.
You should do some prior research to check their credentials, read online reviews, and ask around about them —to ensure that you’re in good hands.
After selecting a professional, let them know about any over-the-counter or prescription medications that you’re currently taking. Some drugs can tend to prevent your blood from clotting, which might lead to dry sockets.
If You Smoke, Limit or Avoid Smoking Before and After Your Extraction.
Smoking can tend to skyrocket your risk of getting dry sockets. Consult your dentist about using nicotine management options, such as the patch, during the healing process. They might even be able to guide you to quit.
After the procedure, your dentist will provide you with the necessary information about healing and recovery and basic guidelines for care. It’s crucial that you follow these directions for the sake of your dental health and to prevent further complications. If still have any doubts or queries, call your dentist’s office. They are meant clear up any concerns that you might still have.
Your dentist might recommend or even prescribe one or more of the following during the healing period:
- Antibacterial mouthwashes
- Antiseptic rinses
- Medicated gauze
- Medicated gel
- Pain medication
Your dentist might also prescribe an antibiotic, especially if your immune system has been compromised.