After a tooth is pulled, especially wisdom teeth, some people experience a condition referred to as “dry socket”, a painful condition that is many times worse than the discomfort following tooth removal. Thankfully it can be treated, but it is best if you can prevent dry socket to begin with.
What is a Dry Socket?
A dry socket begins when an adult tooth has been removed and the bone and/or nerve in the socket is exposed. Normally, a clot forms to protect the area, but when it doesn’t, anything that is in your mouth- food, fluids, even air, can make the area sensitive and prone to infection.
It is expected to have a small amount of discomfort after a wisdom tooth is extracted, but if you notice intense pain, especially if it is increasing in intensity and/or radiating towards your ear, and/or you experience a bad taste in your mouth, it’s important to contact your dentist.
How to Prevent Dry Socket
You are at a higher risk for dry socket if you
• Had a wisdom tooth extracted
• Have a history of dry socket
• Use birth control
• Had a traumatic extraction (due to an accident or infection)
• Have a history of poor dental hygiene
• Take medication that inhibits blood clotting
When you have a tooth extracted, be sure to use any recommended oral antibiotics or antiseptic solutions and follow your oral surgeon’s post-op instructions on how to prevent a dry socket. These instructions will likely include:
• No rinsing/spitting for 24 hours
• No drinking from straws
• No smoking for 72 hours
• Avoiding hot foods/drinks
• Avoiding crunchy foods (chips, nuts, popcorn, etc.)
• Avoiding alcohol
• Limiting physical activity for 5-7 days
How to Treat Dry Socket
While dry socket is relatively uncommon, 2-5% of patients do experience dry socket. If you are one of them, your dentist is the best person to make recommendations on your treatment. These typically include:
• Pain relievers (over-the-counter or prescribed)
• Topical medications
• Avoiding smoking
• Avoiding sugary drinks
• Avoiding using straws
• Following proper oral care practices
If you need a tooth extraction, or are concerned about dry socket symptoms following tooth removal, contact PERFECT TEETH today. Find a dentist in your area online.