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Dry Socket

A Guide to Dry Socket

For many individuals, the thought of having a tooth removed as part of an emergency dental procedure is worrying enough without the notion of experiencing painful side effects after its completion.

Fortunately, such events are something of a rarity and members of the public who undergo this course of action usually find they are able to enjoy the benefits of healthy teeth and gums well into the future.

However, for a select few, the discomfort that is expected following such a procedure will last more than a few days, causing a problem that may have a significant effect on their overall oral health.

While only around two to give per cent of people will develop dry socket after a tooth extraction, those who do have it can experience severe pain, but can rest assured that the ailment is easily treatable.

What is dry socket?

The socket is the hole in the jawbone where the pearly white has been removed from during a procedure with a dental professional. Following this, a blood clot usually forms in the space to protect the bone and nerves underneath.

In some cases, the clot can become dislodged or dissolve after a few days after the extraction, leaving the sensitive area exposed to food, fluid, air and anything else that is put in the mouth.

This can lead to the development of an infection and the severe pain can last for as many as six days.

Am I at risk of getting dry socket?

Some individuals are at a higher risk of developing dry socket after having one of their pearly whites removed, including:

  • Those who smoke
  • People who fail to maintain a good standard of oral health
  • Women who use birth control pills
  • Individuals who have more trauma during their tooth extraction
  • Those with a previous history of the condition

Rinsing and spitting a lot, as well as drinking through a straw, can also increase the risk of developing dry socket after having a tooth removed.

What are the telltale signs of the condition?

Patients who have recently undergone an extraction should examine the site where the tooth was pulled, those with dry socket are likely to see an arid opening. Instead of a blood clot, there will simply be a bone.

Typically, the pain will start around two days after the operation and is likely to become more severe over time and can cause discomfort in the ear.

Other telltale signs of dry socket include bad breath, as well as an unpleasant taste and smell in the mouth.

How is the issue treated?

Often, individuals suffering from this issue can find relief in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, including aspirin or ibuprofen, while others may find over-the-counter solutions are not enough to ease the pain. In such cases, a doctor could prescribe a stronger drug or give a nerve block.

In addition, a dental professional will clean the tooth socket and remove any debris from the hole, then fill the space with a medicated dressing or a special paste to promote healing. People undergoing this course of action are likely to have to visit their dentist every day for a dressing change until the socket starts to heal and the pain eases.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent an infection from developing in the area. Those treating the problem at home could be advised to rinse with salt water or special salt water on a daily basis.

Those individuals who are awaiting the installation of dental implants may have to wait for two weeks before the procedure takes place to ensure the issue is fully resolved.

How can this problem be prevented?

One of the most important things people can do to ensure they are not affected by dry socket is to avoid cigarettes, cigars and any other tobacco products for a day before their tooth extraction.

Those females who take the contraceptive pill may also want to ask their dentist to perform the procedure on a day when they are getting their lowest dose of oestrogen, as the hormone can affect the ability of the blood to clot.

In addition, checking with a dental professional about other medications that are being administered that could possible interfere with the healing process.

After the operation is carried out, patients should avoid drinking through a straw and spitting for the first few days. Also, rinsing the mouth more than a dentist has recommended could also have negative effects.

Members of the public who visit their dentist on a regular basis for check-up appointments may find they are at a reduced risk of suffering from this issue, as well as a range of other oral health problems.

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