Dry socket also known as alveolar osteitis is a painful dental condition that happens after having a permanent adult tooth extraction. It is a common complication after having a tooth extraction or removal of impacted wisdom teeth and usually starts three to four days after the tooth extraction.
A blood clot will form at the site of the extracted tooth. This blood clot serves as a protective layer over the bone and nerve endings found in the empty tooth socket. The clot also helps in the growth of new bone and for the development of soft tissues over the clot.
Dry socket happens once the blood clot found at the location of the extraction is displaced or liquefied before the wound is completely healed. Being exposed to these conditions will result in severe pain, not only in the sockets but also along the nerves found at the side of the face. You can learn how to manage this condition by enrolling in a first aid class today.
Symptoms of dry socket
- There is a severe pain several days after the extraction of the tooth
- Partial or total loss of the blood clot at the site of the extracted tooth, which can be seen as an empty-looking socket.
- Pain can be felt that spreads from the socket to the ears, eye, temple or neck at the same side of the face as the extraction.
- A bone can be seen in the socket
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth and bad breath or foul odor that comes from the mouth.
- Swelling lymph nodes found around the jaw or neck and there is a slight fever.
Causes of dry socket
- Severe bone and tissue trauma at the surgical area caused by difficulty in extraction
- Small fragments or roots or bones that remained in the wound after the surgery
- Bacterial contamination of the socket
There are factors that increase the risk of developing a dry socket like chemicals found in cigarettes or other forms of tobacco can prevent or slows down the healing and cause contamination of the affected area. Sucking on a cigarette can displace the blood clot early.
Improper ways of caring after a tooth extraction can increase the risk of having a dry socket. High estrogen levels found in oral contraceptives can disrupt the normal healing and increases the risk of dry socket. Some previous or current infections found around the tooth to be extracted increases the risk of dry socket. A person who had dry socket in the past is susceptible to develop this after another extraction. Additionally, some types of medications like the prednisone increases the risk of dry socket.
Treatment and home remedies
- Apply cold compress on the outside of the face in the first 48 hours after the extraction and warm compress after that in order to help minimize swelling and pain.
- Take pain relieving medications.
- Avoid smoking and using tobacco products
- Drink plenty of liquids especially water in order to remain hydrated and for prevention of nausea that may be caused by some pain medications.
- Brush the teeth around the dry socket area and rinse the mouth using warm salt water for several times a day.