What is Dry Socket?

Wisdom Teeth

Alveolar osteitis, commonly called “dry socket,” is a painful dental condition that can occur after having a tooth extracted. A dry socket happens when a blood clot is dislodged from the site of a tooth extraction, exposing bone and nerves that can result in significant pain. After receiving surgery to remove wisdom teeth, it can be easy to forget some of the keys to recovery – many of which are based around keeping blood clots secure in the site of the extracted teeth. Read on to learn more dry socket symptoms and how to prevent the condition.

Dry Socket Symptoms

While some pain is to be expected following the removal of any teeth, dry socket symptoms typically include severe pain within a few days after a tooth extraction. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain radiating from the socket outward, toward the eye, ear, neck or temple on that side of the face
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Bad breath or a foul smell or taste in the mouth

If patients experience any of these symptoms, they should contact their oral and maxillofacial surgeon as soon as possible to avoid further complications. Even if the only symptom is new or worsening pain, patients should contact their OMS, as over-the-counter pain relievers or any prescribed medications should manage normal discomfort from tooth extraction.

How to Minimize the Risk of Dry Socket

In order to properly recover from a tooth extraction, it is essential to follow your OMS’s instructions, from what to do before surgery to what to eat during recovery from wisdom tooth extraction. To lower the risk of dry socket and avoiding those painful dry socket symptoms:

  • Remember to always follow your OMS’s postoperative instructions.
  • Stop smoking before the extraction and avoid tobacco use during recovery.
  • Discuss any medications with the oral and maxillofacial surgeon to account for any that might interfere with clotting.
  • Avoid vigorously rinsing the mouth, and avoid brushing around the extraction site for at least 24 hours.
  • Avoid using straws during recovery, as the sucking motion can dislodge a clot.

Although dry socket is a common worry of patients having impacted wisdom teeth removed, these steps should be followed after any tooth extraction to avoid dry socket.  

Article Courtesy of AAOMS, https://myoms.org/

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