Dry socket is a widespread problem that may occur after extraction (removal) of a tooth. Many patients are scared of this condition just after getting their tooth extracted. This article is about the cause, risk factors, and treatment of dry socket.
Sometimes after extraction or removal of teeth, there is throbbing or pinching pain in the region of extraction with a foul smell. This condition is termed as dry socket or alveolar osteitis. It generally occurs two or three days after removal of a tooth.
It occurs due to disintegration or destruction of the clot formed after the extraction or removal of the tooth, which can be due to:
Mandibular third molar removal is causes the majority of dry sockets or alveolar osteitis than other teeth in the oral cavity. But, it can occur after extraction or removal of any tooth in the oral cavity.
The patient should consult the dentist immediately. The affected region is cleaned, and a dressing of Zinc Oxide Eugenol is applied and the patient is asked to follow-up after three days.
Severe pain after a few days of extraction, loss of blood clot at the site of extraction, radiating pain to the neck, ears, and eye, malodor, unpleasant taste, and bone visibility in the socket are the manifestations of dry socket.
A dry socket is not a concern if the extraction site is fully healed, which usually is between 7 to 10 days.
After the extraction of a tooth, a blood clot should form at the site to be healed. However, if there is a disruption of the blood clot, it results in the dry socket, which usually starts on the third day after the extraction and lasts for seven days.
- Flushing the socket to clean the debris.
- Packing the socket with a medicated gel or paste.
- Taking pain-relieving medication.
- Self-care involves cleaning the debris from the socket with the help of squirt water, prescription rinse, or saltwater.
Rinsing with salt water helps in preventing further infection at the extraction site. Missing a half tablespoon of salt with eight ounces of water and squishing it for one minute helps remove debris and promote healing.
Prolonged healing, infection of the extraction socket, and osteomyelitis are the possible complications of an untreated dry socket.
Although a dry socket can heal on its own, it may cause discomfort, which can be relieved at home by squishing the mouth with salt water to remove the debris.
A dry socket rarely may result in complications, but ignoring the dry socket is difficult since the nerve endings, bone, and tissue are exposed.
The causative factor of dry factor is disruption of the blood clot and not the bacteria; therefore, antibiotics are not usually needed. Immunocompromised individuals and people with a history of dry socket are recommended with antibiotics after tooth extraction.
Placement of sutures or stitches helps prevent the disruption of a blood clot and reduces the risk of developing a dry socket.
Although dry socket is a relatively rare condition, compared to other complications of tooth extraction, the incidence of dry sockets is most common.
Healing of the dry socket is identified by the presence of a red-colored blood clot, which slowly dissolves and is replaced with fibrin.
Squishing the mouth with water frequently, avoiding tobacco or smoking, maintaining hydration, and taking pain medications help treat dry sockets at home.
Last reviewed at:
01 Jul 2019 - 1 min read
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