When you think of a dry socket wisdom teeth are typically what come to mind. However any tooth extraction can result in this painful condition. Just when you think your mouth is healing nicely, a dry socket hits you like a ton of bricks.
Of course, not everyone experiences this pain. Thankfully, only 2-5% of dental extractions result in a dry socket.
Statistics don't matter when you are the one suffering.
Dry sockets happen when the blood clot becomes dislodged from the extraction site.
Symptoms occur 3 or 4 days after the tooth is removed causing a lot of pain that sometimes radiates to your ear.
Other symptoms include a bad odor or bad taste in your mouth.
If you have a dry socket, the extraction site looks like an empty hole in your mouth.
You may even be able to see exposed bone.
Extraction sites that are healing properly have red or even whitish tissue where the tooth used to be.
Typically though, you won't need to evaluate the appearance of the extraction site as the pain will make it obvious enough.
Your dentist will place some gauze soaked with medication in the area. It takes awhile for it to feel better so you may also be given a prescription for pain medication.
The area may have to be treated by your dentist more than once.
Dry sockets are no fun at all but they do eventually heal.
There are many things you can do to prevent the pain of a dry socket. Follow your surgeon's instructions.
Be very careful to not disturb the blood clot especially during the first 24 hours. No smoking, drinking from a straw, rinsing, brushing the area or chewing hard foods.
A soft diet and gently rinsing with salt water or a prescribed mouthwash may be recommended after 24 hours.
Many dentists and surgeons recommend using a prescribed chlorhexadine rinse before and for a few days after surgery.
Since one risk factor for getting a dry socket is trauma during the tooth extraction, wisdom teeth extractions are the most common to develop a dry socket.
For wisdom teeth that are impacted, seeing an oral surgeon is recommended.
Other risk factors for getting a dry socket after tooth extraction include, smoking, use of birth control pills, history of dry socket, infection in the area and poor oral hygiene.