Welcome back to Goehring Dental and happy TGIF! If you have recently had a wisdom tooth removed or if you need to have one removed, you might have heard of the term “dry socket.” Between 20 and 30 percent of wisdom tooth extraction patients develop a localized alveolar osteitis, or dry socket, and the experience can be quite uncomfortable. Don’t fret, because there are steps you can take to help avoid and treat dry socket. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly staff.
What is Dry Socket and How do I Avoid It?
After your wisdom teeth are removed, a socket will remain where the tooth once stood. Soon after the tooth is pulled a blood clot will form over the surface of the socket, which protects the underlying bone structure and nerve network from air, food, fluid, and other elements. If the clot is displaced or ruptured it’s possible that an infection will develop, which will cause significant pain and inflammation. The soreness can last a few days or even an entire week.
There are certain habits that will increase the risk of alveolar osteitis. Smokers, for instance, are associated with a greater likelihood of contracting dry socket. The chemicals in cigarettes and other smoking devices can slow the pace of healing and can even contaminate the wound. Sucking on a cigarette can also dislodge the blood clot; for similar reasons, it is generally recommended to avoid drinking through a straw. It is important to follow your dentist’s advice when it comes to protecting the extraction site and, more generally, when maintaining good oral hygiene. Periodontal and tooth infections will increase the probability of dry socket — make sure to brush and floss well.
If you’ve recently had a third molar removed, you can monitor for dry socket by looking out for some common symptoms. If you experience undue pain around the extraction site, contact your dentist. The pain may radiate out from the wound site, where the jawbone is most sensitive, and can extend all the way to the ear. Chronic bad breath may also be a sign of dry socket.
If you are experiencing alveolar osteitis, you can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. However, these types of medications are not always effective at relieving the pain and soreness associated with dry socket. Your dentist may decide to prescribe you a stronger drug or could choose to anesthetize the extraction site. To prevent infection, your dentist may also choose to prescribe antibiotics.
To help treat dry socket, any debris or particles will be removed and the hole will be filled with a medicated dressing that stimulates healing and clotting. This treatment may require daily visits for redressing, until the pain has subsided. Your doctor may also give you instructions on how to clean the socket on your own. If this is a case, you’ll receive a plastic syringe with salt water or a prescription rinse. The good news is that once you’re treated, the pain should be eliminated fairly quickly.
Schedule Your Wisdom Tooth Consultation
If you are experiencing dry socket or if you would like to know more about wisdom teeth removal, contact our Austin, TX office to schedule your no-obligation consultation with Dr. Goehring today!