What’s a Dry Socket and Why Does it Happen?
Dry sockets are painful complications arising after tooth extraction. A blood clot normally forms at the bottom of the socket where a tooth has been removed, protecting the underlying bone, nerves and other tissue as healing takes place. It can happen that blood there will not clot, or it can be dislodged and expose the bone and nerves. Hence, it can cause some painful sensation.
The condition does not happen always, but when it does, certain risk factors have been associated with it. Smoking and chewing tobacco ane common culprits, as well as using oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy, or as simple as drinking from a straw. There might be an infection around the extraction site. Dry socket may also be the outcome of not following your dentist’s home care instructions, or you might have had a history of dry socket, or it may be due to poor oral hygiene.
Pain and discomfort normally follow after tooth extraction, though if they worsen, then your dentist must know as that is no longer normal. Also, report any bad mouth odor or foul taste. Your dentist or oral surgeon will likely suspect dry socket and examine you for other signs of complications. X-rays can rule out a bone infection, or to see if fragments of bone or root remain.
Pain management will be your dentist’s course of action. The dentist will flush the socket to remove any irritating debris, pack it with medicated dressings and prescribe pain medication. You will have to continue the treatment with home care for several days. You may be instructed to flush the socket with saline solution or medicated rinse for several days, and take your meds, too.
While your dry socket is healing, do pay heed to what your dentist has advised you. You have to adjust to some lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, avoidance of carbonated beverages and sugary or acidic foods that may irritate the area. Drink plenty of water, apply only gentle brushing around the area, and hot and cold packs on the jaw or cheek as directed. Rest. If you follow instructions, your condition usually improves soon after beginning treatment. Follow up with your dentist to ensure no other complications develop. Know that you are prone to develop it again.
Following Dentist’s Advice is Key
While we conscientiously aim for complications-free tooth extraction, your compliance with doctor’s advice is as valuable to treatment success. Dry socket is a treatable and preventable condition that we can work on together, here in downtown Seattle.