Dry socket is a dental condition that usually occurs after a dental extraction. Dry pocket also called “alveolar osteitis” involves the inflammation of the jawbone (or alveolar bone) after tooth extraction. It is one of the many dental complications that can occur after tooth removal.
Dry pocket is a relatively rare dental condition. It occurs in about 2 percent of cases of tooth extractions. However, this percentage can rise as high as above 20 percent if the dental extraction involves the removal of the lower wisdom teeth. It normally takes about 7 to 10 days for dry socket to get healed.
What Does It Mean To Have Dry Sockets?
After the lower molar extraction, there is usually a blood clot formation at the site to heal and protect it. But if the blood clot doesn’t form in the first place, got dislodged, or dissolved too early, these result in dry sockets. So, when you have dry sockets, you will have your jawbone, dental tissues, and nerve endings exposed.
Dry sockets can be really painful. Sometimes, food chunk or debris can get stuck to the extraction site, drinks may also hurt the site. This can either lead to an infection or delay the healing process.
Therefore, if you had undergone dental extraction recently and when you looked into the spot where the tooth was extracted, you saw a dry-looking opening or a whitish bone rather than a darkish blood clot, you possibly have dry sockets. The pain after tooth extraction shouldn’t last more than 2 days but dry socket causes the post extraction pain to exceed 2 days. Over time, the pain will become more severe and may radiate to your ear. Other symptoms of dry sockets include an unpleasant taste in your mouth, bad smell and bad breath.
How Is Dry Socket Treated?
Dry sockets treatment must be handled by a dentist. This means you would have to make another trip to the dental office after your tooth extraction. Your dentist would clean and administer medication to the spot to help it heal. The may also prescribe over-the-counter painkillers.
Your dentist would clean the tooth socket, remove any food piece or debris from the socket, and then fill it with a special paste or a medicated dressing (gauze) to enhance healing. If necessary, you may have to make repeated or daily visits to the dental office for a dressing change until your pain lessens and the site begins to heal. If necessary, your dentist will give you directions for cleaning and replacing the medicated gauze at home.
Your dentist may also recommend antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection from the site. You may have to rinse your mouth with a special mouthwash or salt water every day to speed up the healing.
You can as well take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or aspirin to ease the discomfort. You can also take any OTC painkiller. In the case where the OTC medication isn’t enough to relieve the pain, go back to your doctor to receive a stronger drug or for anesthesia for the affected area.
How Long Do You Have To Worry About A Dry Socket?
Not everybody will get dry socket after wisdom tooth removal. However, some people who are more likely to get dry socket after dental extraction include those who: have poor oral hygiene, have had a history of dry socket after having their teeth pulled out, use birth control pills, have their wisdom teeth pulled, smoke, etc. Spitting or rinsing your mouth a lot, or taking drinks through a straw after dental extraction can also raise your risk of getting dry socket.
However, if you have gotten a dry socket, carefully following the dentist’s instruction will help to heal the dry socket as soon as possible. But you may have to worry about your dry socket if you smoke, if you don’t follow your dentist’s post extraction instructions, remove medicated gauze from inside your mouth too early, have preexisting dental infections like periodontal disease, had a traumatic tooth extraction, have denser jawbones, or continue with birth control pills.
Typically, a dry socket heals over in 7 to 10 days on its own. Nevertheless, a dry socket is no fun, it is quite painful. To ease your discomfort, you can take a painkiller or ask your dentist for advice.
What Complications Can Develop From Dry Socket?
Delayed healing is one of the possible complications of dry socket. Also, infections may occur when you have dry socket but the infection isn’t strictly linked to dry socket. Signs of infection include:
- Pus or discharge from the extraction site
- Fever and chills
If you have any of the signs above, call your dentist immediately.
How to Prevent Dry Socket?
To prevent dry socket, simply follow all instructions given by your dentist for tooth extraction recovery. After tooth extraction:
- Avoid birth control pills as much as possible. If you need to control birth, discuss with your dentist to find a replacement birth control method while you recover from dental extraction.
- Don’t suck on a spoon or a straw for about a week after surgery.
- Avoid taking foods that may get stuck in the affected area. Avoid foods like gums, seeds, and nuts.
- Avoid injury to your mouth during recovery.
- Avoid acidic or hot beverages that may dissolve the blood clot, such as coffee, soda, or juice.
- Avoid smoking for about a week after surgery.
Some dental practitioners claim that rinsing your mouth with a chlorhexidine gluconate rinse or using chlorhexidine gluconate gel after dental extraction decreases the risk of dry socket.
Why Is My Tooth extraction Not Healing?
If your tooth extraction is not healing, there are basically two things that should be considered – how long has your tooth been extracted and did you follow all the post extraction instructions given by the dentist?
Sometimes if the removed tooth is large or if the extraction procedure caused a large wound, it may take about 7 to 10 days for the tooth extraction to heal up completely. However, you must observe proper oral hygiene practices during this period in order to avoid dry sockets or bacteria reinfections.
If your tooth extraction is not healing, chances are that there is no blood clot on the affected site or the blood clot has been dislodged. This may lead to dry sockets (delayed healing). And in case there is a granulation tissue in the affected area, which prevents the tooth extraction from healing. You need to consult your dentist who will remove the granulation tissue in order to facilitate healing.
Dentist In Houston Near Me
Dry sockets are the most common complications of dental extraction. Any shock to the extraction site and blood clot can cause severe pain and lead to dry sockets. Certain factors may increase your risk of getting dry socket, such as smoking, using straw, pill, etc.
Dry sockets are treatable by a dentist and you would feel relieved after treatment. Contact Dentist Houston Tx today if you experience any sign of dry socket after a tooth extraction.