What is dry socket?
Having your teeth extracted isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. With the right dentist, it can certainly be an easy process, but some pain is always expected, especially in the healing process. However, there is a limit on how much pain should be present, especially after a few days have passed.
If your pain persists, or is excruciating (disproportionate to the intensiveness of the procedure) you could be suffering from dry socket.
Only 5% of people will experience dry socket after an extraction. Sufferers usually have a history of bad dental hygiene, or are smokers. Other people who are susceptible to getting dry socket are women who use birth control, had a particularly traumatic extraction (the tooth was hard to pull) or have had dry socket before.
Causes and symptoms
The socket is the hole in the bone where the tooth has been removed, Web MD explains. Once a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Sometimes that clot can become dislodged or dissolve a couple of days after the extraction, before the wound has had time to heal properly. When the clot dislodges, it leaves the bone and nerves exposed to air, food, fluid, and whatever else enters the mouth. This can lead to infection and severe pain that can last for 5 or 6 days.
Mayo Clinic continues that exposing the underlying bone and nerves can cause intense pain, not only in the socket but also along the nerves radiating to the side of your face. The socket becomes inflamed. If you develop dry socket, the pain usually begins one to three days after your tooth is removed.
Dry socket is the most common complication following tooth extractions, such as the removal of third molars (wisdom teeth). You will need to get immediate emergency assistance. Unfortunately, run of the mill over-the-counter medications alone won’t be enough to treat dry socket pain. Your dentist or oral surgeon can offer treatments to relieve your pain.
Having dental insurance can mitigate the costs of all the check-ups and post-dental surgery interventions that may come along.
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As mentioned above, dry socket treatment needs to be overseen by a medical/dental professional. You will most likely need to take a course of strong antibiotics as well as do a daily saltwater rinse of the area to keep it clean.
Your dentist may suggest a minimal diet, which consists mostly of liquids or soft foods to avoid contaminating or further injuring the socket.
Once your dentist has check out the site and removed any debris from it, he might put some gauze and dressing in it to protect it for the first few days. Expect an injection for the pain, directly into the site.
Once you have had your tooth extracted, there are certain things you can do to avoid getting dry socket. Firstly, hold off on eating for a few hours. Any hard foods can rip the clot from the hole. Also, resist the temptation to suck at the wound site. This action is exacerbated by spitting and drinking through a straw. The lips create a vacuum that could suck the blood clot from the site and leave it vulnerable.
Smoking is a major risk factor for dry socket, avoid cigarettes, cigars and any other tobacco products for a day or so after your surgery (and then never smoke again, just for good measure).
The oestrogen in birth control can also interfere with your ability to clot; speak to your dentist about birth control options that don’t.
Adults and children need to visit the dentist at least twice a year and these dental maintenance appointments can start to add up.
Dental insurance will cover you for any additional treatments such as crowns, root canals or fillings, whether they are done at the dentist, or specialist practice.
Usually, a dentist will refer you to a specialist, if needed.
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