Why Do We Get Dry Sockets? Everything you need to know about Dry Sockets

What exactly is a Dry Socket?

A common side effect of having your Wisdom teeth removed is a dry socket (alveolar osteitis). How common? It depends on how well you take care of yourself after extractions. We have done thousands of extractions and only a few have had a Dry Socket.

They are be very painful. So, you will want to avoid getting one at all costs.

A dry socket will cause you pain three to five days after your dentist extracts the tooth. Whether treated or not, the pain will last 10 to 15 days.

After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms to allow for proper healing. The nerve endings and bone beneath the extracted tooth are protected by a blood clot.

The nerves are exposed when the blood clot dislodges or fails to form properly. As a result, you’ll be in excruciating pain and have inflammation within the socket. Food debris can also get into the socket and aggravate the pain.

Causes and Risk Factors of Dry Socket

A dry socket can occur in a number of ways, including:

  • The blood clot may not form at all after your dentist extracts the tooth.
  • The blood clot dissolves or is dislodged before the extraction site heals.
  • In the empty socket after surgery, a bacterial infection develops.
  • A dry socket can occur if there is trauma at the extraction site (for example, an impacted tooth).
  • You are more likely to develop impacted third molars if you have a small jaw (wisdom teeth). Serious oral infections and cysts can form if these teeth are not extracted.

The following risk factors are also linked to dry sockets:

  • Neglecting oral care during the healing process can result in a dry socket.
  • Infections of the teeth or gums, for example, cavities or gum disease, you are more likely to develop a dry socket.
  • Using oral contraceptives or have high oestrogen levels during the healing process, you are more likely to develop a dry socket.
  • Tobacco consumption and smoking, nicotine, cigarettes, and tobacco all have the potential to slow or stop the healing process.
  • With a history of a previous dry socket indicates that you are more likely to experience one again.

Clinical Picture and Symptoms of Dry Socket

If you have any of the following symptoms a few days after a tooth extraction, you are likely to have a dry socket:

  • A blood clot was lost in the area where the tooth was extracted.
  • Observing the bone in its socket.
  • Pain that is severe and localised near the extraction site and responds to gentle probing, such as brushing.
  • Pain on the same side as the extraction site may eventually radiate to the temples, eyes, neck, or ears.
  • Bad breath (halitosis) and/or an unpleasant aftertaste
    A low-grade fever is also possible.

How to Avoid Dry Sockets?

To avoid a dry socket, dentists recommend rinsing your mouth several times per day. You should also carefully follow the aftercare instructions for wisdom teeth removal and practise good oral hygiene. Avoid brushing the extraction site for at least a week after surgery.

For the first two days after the extraction, eat only soft foods such as soups, smoothies, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, hot substances, carbonated beverages, and tobacco products for at least a week.

Patients should also avoid using straws to reduce the likelihood of dry socket formation.

Treatment Options for Dry Sockets

If you develop a dry socket, you should seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will clean out the socket to speed up the healing process. Antibiotics are only administered if the surgical site is clearly infected.

The four steps of dry socket treatment are as follows:

Step 1.  Your dentist or oral surgeon will first clean out the dry socket and flush out any food, debris, or bacteria that has accumulated around the extraction site.

Step 2. A medicated dressing will be applied to the socket. This keeps new food particles and debris from entering the tooth socket.

Step 3. Once the dressing has been applied, you must visit your dentist on a regular basis to have it changed during the healing process.

Step 4. To aid in healing, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, pain relievers, and/or irrigation solution after surgery.

Step 5. To get rid of bacteria and food particles, rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day. Most mouthwashes are too harsh for extraction sites and contain alcohol, which increases the possibility of dry socket formation.

If pain relievers do not work, or if your breath worsens, see your dentist right away.