For patients of all ages who find themselves recovering from a tooth extraction, the possibility of a dry socket can be a frighteningly unpleasant side effect. But what is a dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, and how can it be avoided? In this post, we’re going to shed light on this infamous condition.
Dry Socket 101
As your mouth heals after you have a tooth extracted, a blood clot forms in the extraction site to protect the underlying nerves and bone. If that blood clot dislodges or dissolves before the gum tissue completely heals, those nerves and bone become exposed, causing pain and a “dry socket.” While there may be some lingering pain immediately after the extraction, a patient with dry socket experiences worsened pain three to four days post-extraction that lasts anywhere from three to 10 days.
If you think you may be suffering from a dry socket, look into the hole where the tooth used to be. Your blood clot has likely been compromised if it looks empty or if there is visible bone. Other symptoms include: pain that radiates from your jaw, bad breath, and/or an unpleasant taste in your mouth. Until you can receive care, pain can be managed with a few drops of clove oil several times a day. Keep in mind that this painful dental condition is not always accompanied by an infection. However, if the site is not properly cared for, it can lead to an infection.
How to Prevent Dry Socket
While poor oral hygiene, smoking, and birth control pills are a few things that could make you more susceptible to dry socket, there are fortunately a few ways you can help prevent it:
- Continue to gently brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and floss every day, but avoid the extraction site completely for the first day. After 24 hours, gently rinse several times a day with 1/2 teaspoon mixed with one cup of water.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat soft foods the first day after your extraction and reintroduce semi-soft foods when tolerable, but avoid chewing on the side of your extraction.
- Rest the full day after your extraction and wait to resume vigorous activities and sports per your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s recommendations.
- Avoid using a straw or aggressively rinsing and spitting for at least a week after your extraction. The suction and force of these activities can cause your blood clot to dislodge.
- Tobacco use delays healing and increases your risk of complications after an extraction. So if you are a smoker, stop! It’s extremely harmful to both your oral health and your overall health.
- Talk to our knowledgeable team about any medications or birth control you are taking that could cause your blood to clot less than usual.
We Can Help Relieve Your Pain!
Our team is here to give you the oral care you need, and that includes care after an extraction. We will do all we can to help you avoid dealing with the pain and hassle of dry socket. Contact us today if you think you might be experiencing dry socket.