What causes dry socket and how do you prevent it?
Tooth extractions are necessary when a tooth is impacted, infected or good oral hygiene isn’t being practised. Affecting 2-5% of patients, dry socket is a nasty experience that can occur after a tooth extraction, but is preventable and can be treated quickly.
What is dry socket?
Dry socket (Alveolar Osteitis) is a complication after a tooth extraction. It occurs when the normal, post-extraction healing process is interrupted due to the loss of a blood clot.
A dislodged blood clot exposes the bone to saliva, air, food and bacteria. All this gets packed into the hole next to the bone. The bone contains many pain receptors that don’t like exposure and will continuously fire until it’s covered up again.
Essentially, dry socket looks like a hole. When the hole is ‘not dry’ after an extraction, it’s because it has a dark blood clot present (what you want), which prevents food and bacteria from packing inside the socket.
In most cases, you’ll know you have a dry socket due to the pain you experience.
What to look out for
The likelihood of dry socket occurring is increased with these factors:
Poor oral hygiene
Age – most frequently occurring between the ages of 20-40.
Tooth location – 45% of impacted lower wisdom teeth extractions result in dry socket.
Smoking – more than 10 cigarettes a day makes you four times more likely to develop dry socket.
Surgical extractions – increase dry socket incidents tenfold due to the small incision and increased trauma to the area.
Signs and symptoms of dry socket:
Severe throbbing pain that’s most intense 3 days after the tooth extraction. The pain is intense, non-stop and keeping you up at night.
Bad breath (halitosis) and foul taste in the mouth.
An empty socket with visible bone.
If you think you have dry socket, schedule an emergency appointment with your dentist immediately.
Dry socket prevention
Follow your dentist’s post-operative instructions. If you’re in doubt of what to do, always call.
Maintaining good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, and between your teeth once a day.
Avoid brushing or poking your tongue and/or fingers near the extraction site for the first 72 hours after. This could dislodge the precious blood clot.
Don’t drink through a straw, do strenuous exercise, rinse too often or soon after the extraction. Again, you don’t want to dislodge the blood clot.
Don’t let this uncommon occurrence hinder your dental treatment. Your local Moggill dentist will ensure your comfort and care is in safe hands. Good oral hygiene and regular check-ups with your trusted dentist will keep you smiling confidently.
Want to know more about dry socket prevention? Contact Karana Downs Dental today to see where you stand with your oral hygiene.