Dry socket is a painful dental condition that sometimes happens after tooth extraction, however only a very small percentage (2% to 5%) of people experience this problem.
Some people are in higher risk to get dry socket then other, because they:
- have poor oral hygiene
- have wisdom teeth removed
- have greater-than-usual trauma during the tooth extraction surgery
- use birth control pills
- have a history of dry socket after extractions
Rinsing and spitting a lot or drinking through a straw after having a tooth extracted also can raise your risk of getting dry socket.
Dry socket is when the blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction fails to develop, or it dislodges or dissolves before the wound has healed.
Normally, a blood clot forms at the site of a tooth extraction. This blood clot serves as a protective layer over the underlying bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket. The clot also provides the foundation for the growth of new bone and for the development of soft tissue over the clot.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?
A patient may first notice signs of a dry socket 3 to 4 days after extraction of the tooth by feeling moderate-to-severe pain that could last anywhere from 10 to 40 days.
If you look into the site where the tooth was pulled, you’ll probably see a dry-looking opening. Instead of a dark blood clot, there will just be whitish bone. Exposure of the underlying bone and nerves results in intense pain, not only in the socket but also along the nerves radiating to the side of your face or ear.
Other symptoms of dry socket include bad breath or a foul odour or/and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
The socket becomes inflamed and may fill with food debris, adding to the pain. If you develop dry socket, the pain usually begins one to three days after your tooth is removed.
When to see a dentist?
A certain degree of pain and discomfort is normal after a tooth extraction. However, you should be able to manage normal pain with the pain reliever prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon, and the pain should lessen with time.
If you develop new or worsening pain in the days after your tooth extraction, contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.
Dry socket is the most common complication after a tooth extraction, such as the removal wisdom teeth, however medications available in stores very likely will not be enough to treat dry socket problem. Your dentist or oral surgeon can offer you treatments to relieve your pain, therefore it’s better to see the dentist as soon as possible.
Your dentist will clean the tooth socket, remove any debris from the hole, and then fill the socket with a medicated dressing or a special paste to speed up healing. They may prescribe you the antibiotics to prevent the socket from becoming infected. To care for the dry socket at home the recommendation is to rinse with salt water or a special mouthwash every day.
You’ll probably have to come back to the dentist for a dressing change until the socket starts to heal and your pain is gone.
Dry Socket Facts:
- A dry socket is a fairly common postoperative complication of tooth extraction characterised by severe pain.
- It occurs when the tooth socket loses the blood clot that forms after a tooth is extracted and the bone inside the socket becomes exposed.
- It is inflammation of the alveolar bone also referred to as alveolar osteitis.