Archive for June 2011
What is Dry Socket?Dry socket is an uncomfortable condition that occurs after a tooth extraction, particularly the removal of wisdom teeth, molars or premolars. After the tooth is removed, some people continue to feel intense pain, which has to be treated. How dry socket is formed The socket or hole left behind by the extracted tooth develops a blood clot, protecting the bone and nerve in the socket from infection. However, this clot sometimes dissolves and exposes the nerves and bone to food and air, laying it open for infection. The pain from this infection can become unbearable, leading to a dry socket.
Not everyone who has a tooth removed gets a dry socket. Some people are more at risk for this condition, particularly people who have diabetes, smoke, or follow inadequate oral hygiene. When the wisdom tooth is extracted it can cause a dry socket. The use of birth control pills can also increase the risk of a dry socket. The dentist will usually advise you to avoid drinking through a straw, rinsing or spitting for a couple of days after a tooth extraction to avoid a dry socket.Recognizing a dry socket After the tooth is extracted, if the bone is visible instead of the blood clot, it could mean a dry socket. This becomes painful after a couple of days and this pain could extend to the ear, eye, neck and temples. Dry socket also leads to bad breath accompanied by a foul taste and smell in the mouth.
Treatment for dry socket
Dry socket can be treated with drugs, treatment at the dentist’s clinic, followed by instructions to care for it at home. While over-the-counter or prescription medications sometimes help, they may not be sufficient. You may need to make an appointment with your dentist, who will clean the socket to get rid of any food particles and fill it with specially medicated gauze or paste to help it heal. An X-ray may be needed to determine whether pieces of the tooth or bone are still in the socket. This dressing may need to be changed on a daily basis until the dry socket heals. Antibiotics may be recommended to avoid infection. A special mouthwash or salt water rinsing may be advised. The dry socket may take up to a fortnight to heal, following which your dentist may advise dental implants.Can dry socket be prevented? Some basic precautions can be taken before having a tooth extracted to avoid dry socket. Smoking is a major cause for dry socket, so it is advisable to avoid smoking for at least a couple of days before the tooth extraction. For those who use birth control pills, it is best to schedule the extraction for a day when estrogen levels are lowest since this affects blood clotting. It is also a good idea to inform the dentist about other medications you are currently on.
After the tooth is extracted, the dentist’s instructions about avoiding drinking with straws, spitting and rinsing your mouth must be strictly followed so that the blood clot forms naturally. It is best to seek treatment as soon as you suspect that you have a dry socket so that it can be treated effectively.