How to Prevent Dry Socket

dry socket

How To Prevent Dry Socket

Modern dentistry allows tooth extractions to be relatively easy procedures with minimal aftereffects. However, a condition called “dry socket” can occur after an extraction that causes increasing pain and inability to chew on the affected area.

When this occurs, patients should return to their dentist for additional treatment of the dry socket problem to facilitate healing and relieve the pain, which can be severe.

What Is Dry Socket?

When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot will eventually form to protect the bone and nerves that are exposed. However, in some cases, the blood clot dissolved or becomes dislodged from its position, leaving the bone and nerves open to air, fluids and pressure that enter the mouth.

About two days afterward, the individual will begin to feel pain in the area of the extraction. This condition is called “dry socket” and can cause severe pain in the gum and jaw, inability to eat normally and a bad taste in the mouth. Normal healing cannot continue until the area is treated.

How Common Is Dry Socket After Extraction?

Dry socket occurs very rarely, in only about 2 percent of extractions, but the incidence rises to 20 percent when wisdom teeth are involved. Some circumstances are associated with a higher risk for dry socket problems:

  • People who smoke often experience diminished blood circulation that can contribute to dry socket.
  • Teeth that were difficult to extract may pose a higher risk for dry socket.
  • Individuals who take birth control pills which cause changes in hormone levels may be prone to dry socket.
  • Patients who have had dry socket problems with previous extractions are at increased risk.
  • Individuals with poor oral hygiene habits are at higher risk for dry socket problems.

Treatment For Dry Socket Pain

Your dentist will have you come in for a follow-up visit to access the problem and may pack the socket with an antibiotic material or eugenol, which is an extract of clove oil that helps to relieve discomfort, while the area heals.

The packing material may need to be replaced a number of times during the healing process.

In addition, he or she may prescribe an oral antibiotic or recommend pain relievers to reduce discomfort.

Ice packs can help to relieve swelling and pain. Ibuprofen can help to relieve pain during the day and will aid better sleep at night. If pain is severe, your dentist can prescribe stronger medications.

What You Can Do to Prevent Dry Socket

Patients can engage in a number of actions after a tooth extraction that will help to lower their risk for dry socket problems:

  • Follow your dentist’s post-extraction instructions carefully.
  • Stop smoking for a period before your tooth extraction and after to allow good blood flow to mouth tissues.
  • Avoid sucking through a straw to prevent the dislodging of the blood clot that helps healing after extraction.
  • Eat only soft foods until healing is well under way.

Although dry socket can be a painful problem that extends your dental treatment, professional care can help to reduce discomfort and promote faster healing of the affected area.


Categories: General Dentistry

Tags: dry socket, dry socket management

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