What Is A Dry Socket And When Does It Occur?
A dry socket is a painful dental condition that occurs after an adult tooth is removed or extracted. A dry socket can occur three to four days following the extraction. The blood clot that should form after removal of the tooth is dislodged or dissolved before the wound heals, thereby exposing underlying bone and nerves.
What Happens When You Get A Dry Socket?
The exposure of nerve endings in the bone of the socket is known as alveolar osteitis, which is when the blood clot is no longer in the socket protecting the nerve endings. The exposed nerves elicit radiating pain that may go from the socket to the ear, eye, temple and neck on the side of your head where the tooth was extracted.
The pain is accompanied by bad breath, bad taste and a foul odor. Normally when the blood clot is maintained in the socket, the hole heals from the top down. Multipotential cells in the blood clot will form new bone and gum as time goes by.
Dry Socket Healing Process
In a dry socket, all we have is a large space where the tooth used to be, so the socket has to heal from the bottom up. This healing takes a long time and is quite discomforting during the first week. Dry sockets can be treated. At 172 NYC Dental, we have a regiment in place to mitigate the pain and promote healing.
What Are Signs Of A Dry Socket?
- The pain intensifies after three days, instead of mild discomfort abating.
- The socket is not filled and looks like a deep hole.
- White bone is seen inside the hole instead of blood.
- Bad breath.
- Foul odor.
- Bad taste.
How To Prevent A Dry Socket Following A Tooth Extraction
1. Avoid straws
The suction movement of air and cheek muscles when you’re using a straw or even sucking soup on a spoon, can dislodge a blood clot.
2. Avoid smoking and tobacco products
Looking at the data, 4% of non-smokers will exhibit a dry socket and for those who smoke, the number jumps to 12%. We strongly recommend that our patients don’t smoke. If this is difficult here are some tips:
- Switch to a nicotine patch.
- Wait at least 48 hours after your surgery before smoking.
- When you resume smoking, inhale very gently.
- Ask your dentist for stitches on your surgery site.
- Keep the gauze in place over your socket while smoking.
- Avoid nicotine gum or chewing tobacco.
- Try to form new habits instead of smoking.
3. Food choices and eating habits
Eat soft foods and keep away from hard or crusty foods like nuts and seeds.
- Avoid very hot foods.
- Avoid a sucking action as you eat.
- Eating applesauce, yogurt and omelets are good choices.
4. Drink water
Stay hydrated by sipping gently from a glass.
Consult with our dentist to stop all medications that can increase bleeding ten days before surgery. Some medications and home remedies to avoid are:
- Fish oil
- Certain herbs like ginkgo, Biloba and medications such as Eliquis and other anticoagulants
6. Oral hygiene
Proper oral hygiene is a must following tooth extraction and care must be taken to not disturb the blood clot. Here are some tips on oral hygiene care:
- No rinsing the first day
- Very gently lavage, keeping away from the extraction site on the second day by brushing gently on the non-surgical side of the mouth.
- Gently lavage including the extraction site on the third day.
- Gently brush the mouth on the third day.
- Do not use hydrogen peroxide for rinsing as it may dissolve the blood clot.
- Rest the first day; no strenuous exercise for two weeks following surgery.
- Do not bend your head down below heart level.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Keep your head elevated on pillows while sleeping.
- Keep the gauze in place for 1-2 hours immediately after surgery. If oozing persists, place another gauze in and bite on it with pressure for another 30 minutes.
- Place a damp tea bag over the socket and apply pressure by biting, this is very effective in stopping any oozing of blood.
7. Estrogen increases chances of dry socket
For women on oral contraception try to schedule extraction during the 23 – 28 days of the cycle.
How To Treat A Dry Socket Immediately
- Gently flush out the socket to get rid of any food debris.
- Place a medicated dressing in a socket – iodoform gauze with lidocaine and eugenol.
- Take pain medications – alternate 400mg of ibuprofen followed 6 hours later with two Tylenol extra strength and repeat 6 hours later in the same routine.
- Self-care – place drops of Orajel or oil of cloves directly into the socket.
- Make an appointment at 172 NYC Dental, we are open 7 days a week and have dental emergency care available.
A dry socket is a fairly common complication of tooth extraction, especially in the third molar (wisdom tooth) area. Although not a threatening condition it is quite discomforting. Treatment consists of alleviating pain and waiting for the delayed healing to start.
Book an Appointment with 172 NYC Dental
Our experienced staff at 172 NYC Dental is here for your extractions, prevention and treatment of all your dental problems. Get in touch with us today to make an appointment.