A dry socket is an unwelcome problem after overcoming the discomfort of a tooth extraction. It’s an often-painful condition and makes your body susceptible to infection. And it’s an emergency that must be treated right away.
But how do you know if you have a dry socket? And if you’re showing symptoms, what should you do first?
How You Know
It’s normal to feel pain after a tooth extraction. But when it’s severe, it can be related to a dry socket.
After tooth extraction, the pain will peak within the first 24 hours, but after the first full day, you should only feel a dull ache that gradually gets better with every passing hour.
With a dry socket, pain gets more intense three to five days after the extraction. This pain will not go away unless the problem is treated; it will spread along the jaw to the ear and neck.
If the pain by itself doesn’t have you convinced, be on the watch for additional symptoms, including bad breath and a general unpleasant taste in your mouth.
What Causes It?
When the blood clot loosens and falls out, this creates a dry socket. It exposes the underlying jawbone and all the nerves, which is why you feel pain breathing, talking, drinking or doing anything. The blood clot doesn’t just stop bleeding — it also causes the bone to begin to grow and cover the affected area. It works like a scab on the skin. If it comes off too soon, healing takes longer and the area will hurt more.
If you drank from a straw or smoked after having a tooth extraction, the sucking action could have dislodged the blood clot. Coughing, sneezing or drinking carbonated beverages can also cause it to come out.
The Right Treatment
If you have symptoms of dry socket, call your oral surgeon right away. You will need the socket flushed with antibacterial sterilization solution. Irrigation will remove any food particles or debris that could be adding to your pain.
Next, the oral surgeon will pack the empty socket with medicated gel, paste or other graft material, depending on the depth and their recommendations for the longest-lasting treatment. This will immediately relieve your pain, and your oral surgeon will also likely prescribe antibiotics to ward off any infection.
What You Can Do
At home, you may need to change the surgical dressings covering the dry socket. You also may need to clean the area carefully throughout the day. Keep all dental appointments and follow your oral surgeon’s instructions precisely to facilitate faster healing.
Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery is here with hands-on help if you’re experiencing dry socket symptoms. Let’s get you an immediate solution — call our office.