Toothaches are common and all of us may encounter the condition at some point in life. Dry socket is once such painful dental condition that arises after the removal or extraction of an adult tooth. Read through our HealthSpectra story to get every detail about the causes, symptoms and prevention of the dry socket condition.
What Is Dry Socket?
Dry socket is a medical complication of having a tooth extracted, especially wisdom teeth. It can cause throbbing pain and aching in the jaw or gum. The condition is also called as alveolar osteitis. It arises when a blood clot fails to develop in the tooth socket, or if it gets dislodged.
- The socket is the hole in the bone where the tooth is removed.
- When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot is formed in the socket.
- This blood clot protects the nerves and the bones underneath.
- At times the clot may get dislodged or dissolve a couple of days following tooth extraction.
- In such condition, the nerve and bone gets exposed to food, air, fluid and everything that goes into the mouth.
- This can cause pain and infection, lasting for at least 6 days.
Who Are At High Chances To Develop Dry Socket? (Risk Factors)
Some people who are with increased chances to develop dry socket include:
- People with poor hygiene
- One who gets wisdom teeth removed
- People with more trauma during the tooth extraction surgery
- One who uses contraceptive pills
- People with the history of dry socket
- Spitting or rinsing too much after tooth extraction may also be a reason
- Drinking through straw may cause for tooth extraction
People over 30 years of age and with impacted molars are at high dry socket risk. As the age advances, the jawbone becomes denser, restricting the blood supply. The denser the jawbone, the higher is the risk of a traumatic extraction. Moreover, less blood supply decreases the blood clot formation chances and timely healing.
Factors Leading To Dry Socket:
Generally, a dry socket results due to chemical, mechanical and physiological factors Below are the instances which turn out to be the causes for dry socket.
Bacterial Factors: If there is a pre-existing condition in the mouth before the procedure of dental extraction like periodontal or periodonititis the blood clotting may not happen. A few orla bacteria may also interfere with the breakdown of the blood clot.
Chemical Factors: Nicotine taken by smokers decrease the supply of blood in the mouth. Thus, blood clotting may fail to form at the tooth extraction site.
Mechanical Factors: Aggressive rinsing, dragging on cigars, spitting or sucking through a straw leads to loss of blood clot or dislodgement.
Physiological Factors: Poor blood supply, dense jawbone, hormones are the factors the interefere with the prevention of the blood clot formation.
Symptoms Of Dry Socket:
Symptoms may reveal the condition of dry socket.
- A dry looking socket can be seen at the area where the tooth was removed.
- The pain may start developing two days after the tooth extraction.
- A blood clot is not seen in the area.
- The pain progresses with time and become more severe.
- The pain can radiate to the ear too.
- Unpleasant smell and taste can arise in the mouth
How To Treat Dry Socket?
Painkillers can ease discomfort, so the dentist may advice painkillers.
At times, the OTC painkillers may not be sufficient. In such cases, the doctor recommends stronger analgesics or advice a nerve block.
- The dentist cleans the tooth socket.
- Removes debris from the socket
- Fills the socket with a medicated gauze piece that promotes healing.
- Everyday dressing by the dentist is required.
- The dressing is done using the dry socket paste that constitutes ingredients with pain-relieving properties like eugenol (clove oil).
- It needs to be continued until the socket begins to heal and the pain subsides.
The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent the infections in the socket.
Rinsing with special mouthwash or salt water everyday helps relieve the symptoms.
Home Remedies Or Measures To Cure Dry Socket:
- Avoiding drinking with a straw.
- Excessive spitting for a few days after the surgery.
- Go for soft diet.
- Rinsing mouth more than needed. Even if needed, do it gently.
- Opt for the over-the-counter pain medications to manage pain.
- Applying cold compress, or insulated ice pack on the affected side of face helps.
Note: All these offer temporary pain relief and regular dental follow-up visits are amust.
What Is The Average Healing Time For Dry Socket?
On an average, the dry socket takes 10 days to 2 weeks to heal. Only after the condition is sorted and healed, the dentist places the dental implants or moves ahead with further procedures.
Can Dry Socket Be Prevented?
As mentioned earlier, smoking is the risk factor for dry socket and so to prevent the chances of developing the condition, quit smoking or any other tobacco products a couple of days before the surgery.
Since the oestrogen hormone can affect the blood’s ability to clot, ask the dentist to perform the tooth extraction procedure when you take the lowest oestrogen dose in the form of birth control pills.
It is also imperative to list out all the medications you are taking so that the doctor conducts a thorough check on the interference of the medications with the procedure and the normal blood clotting.
To conclude, the prognosis for the dry socket dental condition is normally good without any long-term consequences. With the recovery of the bone cover, the healing progresses. Follow all the special instructions given by the dentist or the doctor.
Also, do not neglect follow-up visits to the doctor to thorough healing.