Dry Socket

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A dry socket is an agonizing dental pain that usually happens after a permanent tooth is extracted. A dry socket occurs when the blood clot fails to develop at the tooth extraction site, or it dislodges or dissolves before the wound completely healed. A blood clot is formed at the tooth extraction site to protect a layer over the underlying bone and nerves from exposure. The clot provides a foundation for the growth of new bone and new soft tissue development. Any exposure of the underlying bones or nerves will result in extreme, uncomfortable pain. Dry socket is a common complication following a tooth extraction, especially removing third molars (wisdom teeth).

You may experience signs and symptoms of a dry socket that may include:

  • Severe pain within the first one to three days after the tooth is extracted
  • Partial or total loss of the blood clot
  • Exposure of the underlying bone or nerves
  • Pain that radiates from the sockets to the entire side of the face the tooth was extracted from
  • Bad breath or foul odor in the mouth
  • Unpleasant, lingering taste in the mouth
  • Discomfort without pain medication
  • Discomfort in sleeping

There is a certain degree of normal pain after a tooth extraction, but if you feel that the pain is more than you can manage, you will need to go back to your dentist or oral surgeon to prescribe you a more potent pain reliever. If it is excruciating pain, you need to see your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.
A painful, dry socket can result in infection or serious complications that could delay the healing process or cause an infection. Proper at-home care after the tooth extraction is critical since it helps promote healing and prevents disease. It is recommended to limit your activities for the remainder of the day to avoid strenuous and rigorous exercises that might dislodge the blood clot. It would help if you used cold compression to decrease pain and swelling and take instructed medications. Remember to eat soft, room temperature food and beverages only. Please refrain from using a straw for at least a week because it can cause the blood clot to dislodge. It is important to clean your mouth after surgery by gently rinsing your mouth and brush your teeth the first 24 hours after the tooth extraction, as instructed by your dentist. If you have questions or concerns, please call us and let us help you feel more comfortable.

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