At Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common procedures we perform. While most tooth removals occur without complication, sometimes a dry socket forms during the healing process. If you are getting ready for a tooth extraction, taking some time to learn about signs, symptoms, and treatment for dry socket can help you be prepared in the event it happens to you!
What Is Dry Socket?
If everything goes like it should after a tooth extraction, a blood clot forms over the spot where the tooth was removed. The clot protects the underlying nerves, bone, and tissue to facilitate healing. But if you have a dry socket, it means the clot never formed, or it was dislodged or otherwise damaged during the healing process. A dry socket leaves your bone and nerves exposed, and can prevent proper recovery.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
It’s easy to spot a dry socket — and there’s nothing pleasant about them. You will likely experience severe pain at and around the extraction site. Mild to moderate discomfort following an extraction is normal, but anything more than that, or pain that worsens rather than improves, is a sign of a problem. Also, you can usually notice the absence of a clot in the case of a dry socket. The bone beneath may be exposed. A bad smell may come from the area, and you may get a bad taste in your mouth.
What Causes a Dry Socket? Are There Risk Factors?
We are still not sure exactly why dry sockets occur, but some people are at a greater risk of developing one.
The risk factors for dry socket include:
- Any type of tobacco use: smoking, chewing tobacco, etc.
- Taking oral contraceptives/estrogen therapy
- Poor aftercare
- Insufficient oral hygiene
- Drinking through a straw after the procedure
- Infection of the gums or teeth surrounding the extraction site
- Having had a dry socket in the past
What’s the Treatment for a Dry Socket?
Get in touch with your dentist or oral surgeon right away if you suspect you have a dry socket after a tooth extraction. We may take X-rays to determine whether or not bone infection is present or if any leftover pieces of tooth are irritating the area.
If it is a dry socket that’s causing the issue, we will flush the area to remove any bacteria or infection, pack the socket (or fill it with a special dressing) to protect the bones and nerves beneath, and then prescribe pain medications as needed to alleviate discomfort. We may send you home with instructions to rinse with a medicated mouthrinse for the next several days to clean out the area and promote healing. Make sure you keep up with your scheduled follow-up appointments after developing a dry socket.
Contact Us With Further Questions
If you have questions about an upcoming oral surgery, or if you suspect you have a dry socket following tooth extraction, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Piney Point OMS. We want you to be prepared for everything that’s coming your way! Feel free to contact our team of experts today.