Symptoms, treatments, causes, and prevention
Wisdom teeth extractions happen every day. Usually, there are very few complications afterward. One problem that occurs occasionally is called a dry socket. With the right care, this problem can be avoided and healing can take place normally.
Cause of Dry Socket
When a tooth is extracted, a hole is left in the gums and bone. Afterward, the hole will partly fill with blood and a dental blood clot will form. This provides a covering over the exposed bone and is a natural part of the healing process.
After tooth extraction, the dentist will provide some instructions that need to be carefully followed in order to help dry socket prevention. This is because the tooth extraction of blood clot can easily be displaced, and when it is, problems can develop. The bone is exposed and it will cause sensitivity with pain when you drink hot or cold fluids or breathe cold air.
Dry Socket Symptoms
A dry socket will most often occur after a wisdom tooth is extracted. The symptoms you might have include:
Throbbing pain in your jaw – that may spread up to the side of your face
Bad breath and an unpleasant taste
Occurrences of Dry Socket
A dry socket is rather rare, only occurring about four percent of the time when including all types of extractions. It is much higher, however, with wisdom tooth extractions. It is not a serious problem, and certainly not life-threatening, but it is often painful and infection is possible.
There are several things that can cause a clot to come out of place. They include:
Drinking through a straw – avoid for a week
Smoking – which slows healing
Drinking carbonated drinks
Sneezing or coughing
Using a toothbrush on that spot too soon.
In most cases, a dry pocket will not start for two or three days after the extraction. Most of the time, it will last from 7 to 10 days.
Dry Socket Risks
Under certain conditions, you are at a higher risk of getting a dry socket. The conditions include:
Not following the instructions the dentist provided
Smoking – causes a sucking action and reduces healing. Avoid for a week
Women on birth control – may need to stop a couple of days before the extraction. Hormonal changes could affect it too.
Being 40-45 years old
Already have periodontal disease
Drinking hot or acidic beverages can dissolve the clot
The pain from the extraction can be expected to last one or two days. Pain from a dry socket will normally start on day three through five. You can expect there to be considerable dry socket pain with it, but there are some things you can do to help get dry socket pain relief.
Rinse your mouth gently with a saltwater mixture several times a day
Use over-the-counter pain medications that are also anti-inflammatory
Brush your teeth gently around the site of the extraction
Apply ice to your cheek to reduce swelling and pain
Place a couple of drops of clove oil on a cotton ball and apply gently to the site for pain relief.
Possible Dry Socket Complications
It is important that you go to a dentist for treatment when you experience a dry socket. The biggest problem is an infection – which can spread. The symptoms you may have without treatment could include:
A fever with possible chills
Swelling of your jaw and gums
Discharge of pus at the extraction site
Dry Socket Treatment
If the above home remedies do not work well enough, you will want to contact your dentist. The socket will be examined to make sure that the problem is what you suspect. An x-ray may be taken to ensure that some bone fragments have not been left in the socket, as well as for possible infection in the bone.
The dentist may provide several treatments for the dry socket. These may include:
Flushing out the socket – This will be done because there may be some food particles in the socket that can lead to more pain.
Place medical dressings in the socket – The dressings will have both pain relievers and medication in them. It will provide quick dry socket relief and help prevent infection.
Prescribe pain medications – Depending on the pain, the dentist will likely prescribe medications for it, but may also want you to rely on over-the-counter medicines.
It is important to realize that if you do not go to the dentist that you may be in for a rougher ride. The medication will likely shorten the time needed for healing, which also means that the pain will not last as long.
If you are facing a tooth extraction, it is important that you contact the dentist in advance. There may be some special instructions that you need to know prior to the surgery. If you currently have dry socket pain, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you get the dry socket pain relief you need. He provides many dental services for the whole family and can help them keep their beautiful smile. His offices are in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas and nearly all dental insurance plans are accepted. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.