Dry socket (also called medically as alveolar osteitis) is a very painful dental condition that can sometimes happen following removal of a permanent adult tooth. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot at the area of tooth removal fails to develop, or it dislodges or dissolves before the wound has fully healed. Having a tooth removed by your dentist comes with certain expectations. This includes discomfort following the tooth removal. However, this discomfort should last a day or 2 at the most and be fairly mild. Dry socket pain can become very intense quickly and last for almost a week in some cases. Dry socket is actually the most common complication of a tooth extraction. Even with that fact it still only occurs a little less than 2% of the time (about 200,000 cases in US each year) and most often following removal of wisdom teeth. It is also prevalent in those with poor blood flow, smokers, and diabetics. Dry socket generally occurs 2-3 days following tooth removal procedure.
When a tooth is removed, a blood clot forms to protect the opening in your gums as it heals. If the blood clot does not form properly or becomes dislodged, it can create a dry socket. A dry socket leaves the nerves and underlying bones exposed, so it is important to see your dentist immediately. If left untreated, this can lead to dental infection and other complications. Dry socket most often occurs in those who smoke, are on oral contraceptives (estrogen can interfere with clotting mechanisms), or do not follow post care instructions properly. Interesting for women, the oral contraceptives also tend to lower pain tolerance which will lead to increased pain sensation if dry socket occurs.
What Is A Dry Socket? Symptoms
-Sharp, aching pain usually starting 2-3 days after removal of a tooth or teeth
-Blood Clot Missing. If you peek into your mouth you would see an opening where tooth was and if there is no blood clot present then you probably have a dry socket. In a normal situation a blood clot forms and covers the exposed opening.
-Visible Bone Present. Bone that can be seen upon visual examination in the socket.
-Radiating Pain. Radiating from the tooth socket to your ear, eye, temple or neck on the same side of your face as the tooth removal.
-Abnormally bad breath or a foul odor emanating from your mouth. This will include having a bad taste in your mouth as well.
-Swollen Lymph Nodes. If you have swollen lymph nodes around your jaw or neck, this is a sign of dental infection and you need to be seen by your dentist immediately as this can be a serious medical emergency if untreated. Signs of a dental infection can include fever, swelling, redness, and pus discharge from extraction site.
-Over The Counter Pain Medications Do Not Work. Generally, tylenol, aleve and advil will not be strong enough of a pain reliever to be able to control dry socket pain.
How Can A Dry Socket Be Treated?
Your dentist will relieve the area of pain using a local anesthetic. If the infection has spread this may not relieve all pain and discomfort at this time but it will help. Your dentist will need to inspect the tooth removal site and clean it of any debris or food particles. Once the area is cleaned sufficiently, your dentist will probably place a medicated dressing over the area to promote healing and soothe the dry socket symptoms. These medicated dressings usually need to be changed daily until dry socket symptoms subside. Use of a warm cloth on outside of face can also aid in healing by promoting increased blood flow to the area. If there is infection present or your dentist suspects one is forming an antibiotic may be prescribed. You will also be given detailed instructions on at home care. Usually includes rinsing with warm, salt water and just being careful with area while it heals. Healing of a dry socket at this point will take between 1 and 2 weeks.
Possible Home Help Remedies For Dry Socket
What Is A Dry Socket? Conclusion
It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions especially following a tooth removal. Communicate concerns and questions immediately so they can be addressed immediately to avoid unforeseen complications. A dry socket can be quite painful and can have serious consequences if ignored. See your dentist regularly to maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime.