Dry socket is a temporary dental condition that sometimes develops during the first few days – 1-3 days – after the extraction of tooth. This is alternately known as alveolar osteitis. This condition is extremely painful and has a foul odor. The formation of dry sockets takes place if the blood clot fails to form or if the formed blood clot gets dislodged from the socket. The blood clot formation is necessary for healing of the bone and without blood clot the bone is exposed to air, food, and fluids and produces a foul odor. Further the process of healing gets delayed. This condition occurs because of complications that occur after extraction of tooth such as impacted Wisdom Tooth.
The symptoms of alveolar osteitis are – acute pain after tooth extraction, bad breath, bad taste, visible bone in the socket, lymph nodes around the jaw or neck get swollen and radiating pain from the socket to your ear or eye.
After extraction of teeth you will find that a blood clot forms at the site of tooth extraction. This clot protects the underlying bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket. This clot forms the foundation for the new tissue and bone growth.
There are certain cases wherein the formation of the clot is improper or the clot is dislodged from the socket much before healing. In the absence of this clot the bone and the nerves in the socket get exposed to food, fluids and air. This causes acute pain both in the socket and also along the nerves that radiate to your ear and eyes on the same side as the tooth.
The following methods are followed for treating dry socket; these methods are mainly aimed at reducing your pain.
- Medicated dressings – your dentist or oral surgeon will pack the socket with medicated dressings. Dressing has to be changed often depending on the severity of the tooth pain.
- Cleaning the socket – your dentist or oral surgeon removes the debris or food particles collected in the socket by flushing it out..
- Pain killers – depending on the pain you have your surgeon will prescribe pain killers. If OTC pain medications are ineffective the surgeon might prescribe stronger pain medications for relieving your pain..
- Self-care – it is also possible that your surgeon might train you to flush your socket using a specialized syringe, water, salt water, mouthwash or a prescription rinse..
Within a few hours of starting treatment you will get relief to certain extent. As days go by the pain will start reducing and the wound will heal within a fortnight.
Some of the risk factors are – oral contraceptives, past history of having dry socket, lack of post-operative care, smoking and infection of gum or tooth.
Some of the complications are – absenting from school or work, delayed healing after extraction, infection and pain.
Occurrence of dry socket can be minimized by taking proper precautions both by the patient and the oral surgeon.
Some of the actions that will prevent the occurrence of dry socket are – application of medicated dressings after surgery, oral antibiotics, avoiding smoking and taking tobacco products, using antibacterial mouthwashes, timing the surgery when your estrogen levels are low, avoid eating foods like pasta, peanuts, popcorn etc. whose pieces that might embed in the socket.