What Is Dry Socket and How Can You Prevent It?

You may have heard your dentist warning you about a painful condition called dry socket. 

If you are preparing for a tooth extraction, then you NEED to be aware of this condition and what you can do to prevent it

Read on if you want to prevent dry socket and the accompanying pain.

What Causes Dry Socket?

Dry socket, known medically as alveolar osteitis, may happen after an adult tooth extraction. Dry socket occurs more often after wisdom teeth extraction.

After the tooth removal, a blood clot will form over the empty tooth socket. This is part of the natural healing process that protects the sensitive bone and nerves inside the socket. 

If the blood clot gets dislodged, the nerve endings will be exposed to the air, causing great pain. It will be painful both to eat and drink and you also are more likely to get an infection.

When Should You Seek Help?

It is normal to experience some pain after your tooth extraction. However, you should be aware of the symptoms of dry socket.

First, check to see whether you see a blood clot or visible bone

You will also experience intense pain spreading from the socket towards the ear. 

You might also have a bad taste inside your mouth.

Don’t just cover the pain with painkillers. Instead, if you experience any of the dry socket symptoms, contact your oral surgeon immediately.

What Risk Factors Are Related to Dry Socket?

There are some things that increase the chance of you developing dry socket. 

Some things are within your control and others may be out of your control. For example, if you are having your wisdom teeth removed, then you can’t change the teeth. So you will need to take extra precautions to prevent dry socket. 

Some risks factors are:

  • Wisdom teeth removal (which carries a greater risk)
  • You have had dry socket before
  • You are on birth control pills
  • You use tobacco products or nicotine gum
  • You had a tooth extracted because of infection or trauma
  • You have a history of poor dental hygiene 
  • You are taking medication that inhibits blood clotting

How Can I Prevent Dry Socket?

Following the tooth extraction aftercare instructions carefully will help you reduce the risk of developing dry socket and speed up the healing process. 

The aim is to protect the blood clot so that the bone and nerves do not become exposed.  You may be asked to:

  • Follow good oral hygiene practices
  • Not rinse or spit for 24 hours
  • Avoid straws
  • Not use tobacco products for 72 hours
  • Not eat or drink hot foods or drinks
  • Limit diet to soft foods, like mashed potatoes
  • Not eat crunchy foods like chips, popcorn, and nuts
  • Avoid alcohol 
  • Limit physical activity for 5-7 days

How to Treat Dry Socket

 Thankfully, dry socket is not very common. Only 2-5% of people who have their tooth extracted will develop the condition. 

Apart from calling your dentist immediately for medical help, you may also need to:

  • Take painkillers
  • Take medications to help with possible infection
  • Flush or rinse with saltwater water
  • Avoid drinking through a straw
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid sweet drinks
  • Follow good oral practices 

If You Need A Tooth Extraction

If you need to have a wisdom tooth or any other teeth extracted, then get in contact with the oral surgeons at Benicia Oral Surgery and Implantology. They perform single tooth extractions or full mouth extractions, in which case you will be fitted with dentures or dental implants

Their office is conveniently located in Benicia, CA, and serves patients throughout the North Bay area. Book an appointment now.

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