This is a thankfully quite rare condition that can occur after a tooth is extracted, but it can also be pretty painful! Generally when a tooth is extracted any discomfort should disappear shortly afterwards. If you find the extraction site is becoming more uncomfortable instead of less, then you might be developing the symptoms of dry socket, which is also called alveolar osteitis. You do need to be pretty unlucky to develop dry socket, as it generally only affects between 2% and 5% of pati
After a tooth has been extracted a blood clot should form in the socket or space left behind. The blood clot helps to protect the nerves and bone that would otherwise be exposed to the air. Sometimes this clot can become dislodged a day or two after the extraction, allowing food and other substances, and bacteria found in the mouth to enter the extraction site. The resulting infection can cause pain for several days. Some people are more at risk than others at experiencing the symptoms of dry socket, and these include:
- Those who are having wisdom teeth extracted
- People who may have a difficult extraction
- People with poor oral hygiene
- Women who take birth control pills
If you think you may be experiencing dry socket then you might be able to tell by looking at the extraction site. One of the symptoms of dry socket is being able to see a wound that appears dry, and you may be able to see the bone. Most people with dry socket develop it within two days or so of the extraction, and the pain can become bad enough to spread outwards to the ear.
Treatment involves having the socket cleaned out in our dental office in Houston, after which we will fill the socket with a substance designed to help the extraction site heal more easily. You may be able to control the pain using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or aspirin, but if it is too bad we can prescribe something a little stronger to help relieve the symptoms of dry socket. We might also decide to prescribe antibiotics for any infection.
There are some things you can do to help prevent these symptoms occurring. If you smoke then it could be well worth your while refraining for at least a day or two before surgery and while the extraction site is healing. If you take birth control pills then we may think about timing the surgery to coincide with a day when you are receiving a lower dose of estrogen, as this hormone can affect the blood’s ability to clot. After surgery we will give you instructions on how to care for the extraction site, and will ask that you don’t rinse your mouth more than we recommend, and that you avoid drinking through a straw as the suction can dislodge the clot.