Dry socket is the most common complication that can arise following a tooth extraction. Although common, it is often hard to treat with over-the-counter pain medication alone.
At Whitewing Dental, your McAllen family dentists are here to offer up all the facts about treating dry socket and how to prevent it altogether.
What Is a Dry Socket?
When a permanent tooth is extracted, a blood clot normally forms at the site to act as a protective layer. A dry socket happens when the blood clot is dislodged, dissolves, or fails to develop all together.
With the blood clot no longer there, the socket is left empty, exposing the bones and nerve endings lying beneath the surface. Because of this, sufferers are likely to feel pain not only in the socket, but along the side of your face.
What Are the Causes of a Dry Socket?
The direct cause of dry socket is still unknown and being studied. A few different factors that play into the causes could be:
- Bacteria has contaminated the socket
- The surgical site underwent trauma from an impacted tooth
What Are the Symptoms of a Dry Socket?
Signs and symptoms of dry socket include:
- Pain in the surgical site after tooth extraction
- The tooth socket looks empty from the total or partial loss of the blood clot
- Bone that is visible in the socket
- Pain that runs from the socket up the side of your face
- Foul breath or odor coming from the mouth
What Are the Risks and Complications
There are a couple of factors that can increase your risk of developing dry socket. Some examples of these risks are:
- The use of tobacco and smoking: The chemicals used in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco have been shown to slow, and even prevent, the healing of the surgical site. The sucking action made when smoking can dislodge the blood clot before it has time to heal.
- The use of oral contraceptives: Estrogen levels are higher in those taking contraceptives and can disrupt the healing process due to the heightened risk of dry socket.
- Improper oral care after surgery: Poor oral care and not following the at-home care instructions can increase your risk for dry socket.
- A history of dry socket: Having dry socket in the past puts you at a higher risk for developing it again.
How Is Dry Socket Diagnosed?
In most cases, your dentist or oral surgeon will suspect dry socket after describing the severe pain that has followed your tooth extraction. To be sure, they may take a couple of extra steps to confirm your diagnosis by:
- Examining your mouth to check for exposed bone or the loss of a blood clot.
- Taking an x-ray to check for small bone fragments that may have been left after surgery.
- Rule out osteomyelitis (infection of the bone).
Treatment for Dry Socket
The treatment you’ll receive is mainly to reduce the extreme pain that accompanies dry socket. Some treatment options include:
- Flushing the socket out for any food or debris found in the empty socket.
- Applying medicated dressings for quick pain relief.
- Taking prescription medication.
- Flushing the socket out at home with a plastic syringe and warm salt water.
- Regular follow-ups to check for infection and healing.
How To Prevent Dry Socket
After the removal of your permanent teeth, your oral surgeon or dentist will do a number of things to prevent the dry socket from happening. Some steps they will take include:
- Taking antibacterial mouthwashes before and after surgery.
- Taking oral antibiotics.
- Applying antiseptic solutions to the surgical area.
- Applying dressings to the surgical area after surgery.
Say Goodbye to Your Dry Socket When You Visit Your Mcallen Dentists at WhiteWing Dental!
Even though dry socket is a common complication of tooth extractions, it doesn’t mean you should suffer through the pain.
Give your McAllen dentists at WhiteWing Dental a call or visit today. We will be happy to give you further instructions for preventing or treating your dry socket.