Dry sockets impact approximately 1.4% of dental extractions. This post-extraction complication is a painful condition that can cause extreme discomfort for several days following simple or surgical tooth removal. Most people associate dry sockets with wisdom teeth extractions.

The symptoms of dry socket can vary, but may include: severe pain, visible bone, bad breath, a foul taste in your mouth, and radiating pain to your ear, eye, neck or temple. The partial or complete blood clot loss at the tooth extraction site looks and feels like an empty socket.

What is Dry Socket?

tooth extraction

A dry socket is a painful condition that can occur after a tooth is extracted. Essentially, the healing process inside of the tooth socket is delayed. It happens when the healing “clot” of tissues inside of the socket is disrupted or fails to develop, leaving a hollow socket and bone exposure behind. When there is no clot inside of the socket, bacteria and food debris can accumulate inside of the void. If that happens, the healing process is delayed, a new clot may not form properly.

In most cases, the average patient will experience an improvement in symptoms about three days after something like a surgical wisdom tooth extraction. With a dry socket, symptoms begin to become more prominent after the third day and into the week following the tooth removal.

What Causes Dry Socket?

In studies, the leading factor that contributed to the development of a dry socket was poor oral hygiene. Since specific home care instructions must be followed to promote a healthy, clean healing environment, failing to follow those suggestions can potentially allow bacteria to interfere with the surgical site. In most cases, the hygiene step that is omitted in dry socket cases is rinsing with warm saltwater.

While underlying health concerns may not cause dry sockets per se, they could potentially increase a person’s chance of developing a dry socket after an extraction. For example, the use of birth control medication, smoking, blood clotting disorders, and a difficult extraction case could all increase the risk of a possible dry socket. Existing periodontal disease or other chronic oral infections can also play a role.

How Do You Treat Dry Socket?

Treating a dry socket requires the help of your trusted dental provider. Depending on the cause and extent of your symptoms, a treatment regimen may include oral antibiotics, pain reliever, and locally placed medication down inside of your open socket. By managing the discomfort and infection — and giving yourself plenty of time to heal — the symptoms of a dry socket will typically subside with 10-14 days.

A suspected dry socket should be treated by your dentist as soon as you begin to experience symptoms of pain or infection. Avoiding professional care could lead to unnecessary discomfort and lengthier healing times, as treating a dry socket at home is not recommended.

How to Prevent Dry Socket

The best way to prevent the chances of a dry socket following extractions or wisdom tooth removal is to follow your home care instructions provided by your dentist. These steps will include how to clean your mouth as well as directions on using a warm saltwater rinse following your surgery. A modified, soft diet is also essential to prevent trauma to the clot or extraction site. Carbonated beverages, alcohol, or drinking through a straw should be avoided as they can potentially interrupt clotting.

Additional methods to prevent dry sockets can also include a special medication or prescribed ointment placed onto the surgical site as directed.

Depending on the type of dental extraction that you need, you will want to select a dentist or specialist to perform your procedure. More challenging or surgical tooth removals could potentially increase your risk of dry sockets during recovery.

Dry Socket Treatment in Ottawa

Parkdale Dental Centre values the health and comfort of our patients. If you need to have a tooth removed, we’ll guide you through the process and discuss how to best avoid the risk of a dry socket after your extraction. With the small chance that you develop symptoms, we’re here by your side to offer therapeutic care and pain relief options to speed up your recovery.

In pain? Call the Ottawa providers at Parkdale Dental Centre today to request an appointment.