Dry Socket

Dry Socket
Having a tooth pulled is never an enjoyable experience. You undoubtedly expect to have some discomfort afterward. But if the pain becomes intense and perhaps even worsen after a few days, it may be a symptom of a condition called alveolar osteitis, or more commonly known as dry socket.

Only a very small percentage develop dry socket after a tooth extraction. In those who have it, dry socket can be very uncomfortable. Fortunately, it’s easily treatable.

The socket is the hole in the bone where the tooth has been removed. After a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Sometimes that clot can become dislodged or dissolve a couple of days after the extraction. That leaves the bone and nerve exposed to food, fluid, air and anything else that enters the mouth. This can lead to an infection and pain that can last for 5 or 6 days.

Who Is Likely to Get Dry Socket?
Some people may be more likely to get dry socket after having a tooth pulled. That includes people who…
have poor oral hygiene
have greater-than-usual trauma during the tooth extraction surgery
use birth control pills
have a history of dry socket after having teeth pulled
people who smoke
rinsing and spitting a lot or drinking through a straw after having a tooth extracted

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?
Severe pain that typically starts within a few days of the tooth extraction
Instead of a dark blood clot, there will just be whitish bone
Bad breath or a foul odor coming from your mouth or an upleasant taste in your mouth
Over time, pain can radiate to your eye, ear, temple or neck

How Is Dry Socket Treated?
To ease the pain and discomfort, you can take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. In some situations, over-the-counter medications aren’t enough to relieve the pain. When that’s the case, your doctor may prescribe a stronger drug or antibiotics to prevent infection.

Your dentist will clean the tooth socket, removing any debris from the hole, and then fill the socket with a special paste or a medicated dressing to promote healing. To care for the dry socket at home, your dentist may recommend that you rinse with salt water or a special mouthwash every day.

What Can I Do to Prevent Dry Socket?
Smoking is a big risk factor for dry socket, so it’s best to avoid cigarettes and any other tobacco products for a day or so after your surgery. Check with your dentist about medications you are taking that could interfere with normal blood clotting. If you take birth control pills, ask your dentist about performing the extraction on a day when you are getting the lowest dose of estrogenas this hormone can affect the ability of the blood to clot.

Avoid drinking through a straw and spitting for the first few days. Do not rinse your mouth more than your dentist recommends. If you do rinse, do so gently. Be sure to visit your dentist for all scheduled follow-up visits.

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