Dry Socket – What is it?
If you experience intense pain a few days after your tooth extraction along with bad breath and a foul taste in your mouth, you could have dry socket. The increase of pain in the mouth after the tooth extraction indicates an interruption in the healing process, leading to dry socket.
Dry socket is known as the condition where the jawbone or alveolar bone of a person is inflamed post a tooth extraction procedure. Also known as alveolar osteitis, the condition is very rare with only 2% to 5% of tooth extraction cases leading to dry socket. However, the percentage is higher (about 20%) for people who’ve gotten their lower wisdom teeth removed.
Causes of Dry Socket
The process of tooth extraction leaves a hole in the bone, also known as a socket. The first step to healing this hole is the formation of a blood clot in the socket in order to protect the nerves and bone lying underneath. However, if the blood clot is lost fully or partially, it may allow the entry of substances like bacteria, air, water, etc. into it and cause an infection. Thus, it delays the healing process and causes severe pain. The various factors involved in the development of a dry socket are:
- Bacterial: Periodontal disease or any existing infection prior to the tooth extraction can prevent the formation of the blood clot. A few forms of oral bacteria can also cause the clot to break thereby leading to a dry socket.
- Chemical: Most smokers have a lesser blood supply in their mouth due to their continuous use of nicotine. Due to this, the formation of a blood clot is prevented post tooth extraction.
- Mechanical: Your mouth requires a lot of care post tooth extraction. Therefore, things like sucking through a straw, spitting, aggressive rinsing, etc. can result in the loss of the blood clot.
- Physiologic: Many other physiological factors like hormonal changes, poor blood supply to the mouth, or a dense jawbone can prevent the formation of a blood clot.
Symptoms of Dry Socket
The symptoms of dry socket start about 2 days after the tooth has been extracted. The pain can start off as a mild one and then increase in its severity. The pain can become very intense and even radiate to the ear. Apart from that, a bad breath and a foul taste in the mouth can also be symptoms of a dry socket.
Treatment of Dry Socket
Over-the-counter drugs aren’t helpful in relieving the pain caused by a dry socket. Therefore, your dentist may prescribe you NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve you of the pain. For worse cases, the doctor may also anesthetize the area to numb the pain.
Other processes include cleaning the socket of any debris and filling the socket with a special paste. This will ease out the pain and promote fast healing of the socket as well. However, you may need to change the dressing every few days to avoid any infection.