There are a host of reasons you might need to get a tooth extracted, including severe decay, tooth trauma, or the removal of wisdom teeth, which many young adults must experience.
The healing of your mouth after an extraction, however, can be encouraged and hastened by taking certain steps, and a common post-extraction complication that many would prefer to avoid is known as dry socket. This occurs when a blood clot fails to form or is displaced at the site of your extraction.
Pain is the result of your nerves and bone getting exposed to air, but it also slows healing. This might not sound like something that would cause much alarm, but we’ll go into why dry socket is a problem for patients.
The capable and caring team at Expressions in Dentistry is invested in your comfort, whether you visit us for a routine exam and cleaning or you need a more involved treatment, such as an extraction.
The problematic symptoms of dry socket
If dry socket strikes after your tooth extraction, you can’t ignore it. Symptoms include:
- Severe pain at the extraction site
- Pain that starts a few days after your extraction
- Pain may move beyond your extraction site to your face and neck
- Mild fever
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
Even if you follow your dentist’s post-extraction home care instructions “to a T,” you can still end up with dry socket. If this happens, it’s essential to seek treatment. You may be at higher risk for developing dry socket if you don’t brush and floss well after your extraction or if you’re a woman and using oral contraceptives.
What you can do to avoid dry socket
Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce the chances that you’ll suffer with dry socket. Anything that puts you at risk for dislodging the blood clot that forms at your extraction site after your tooth is extracted can lead to dry socket, so don’t do these things:
- Use a straw to drink
- Swish too powerfully when you brush your teeth or use mouthwash
- Eat hard or crunchy foods — eat soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, or applesauce
If you ultimately do suffer with pain from dry socket, your dentist will advise you to keep your extraction site scrupulously clean. You can use saltwater to rinse your mouth, apply ice to your extraction site, and position gauze in the location of your extraction. It’s also OK to use over-the-counter pain medications.
Dry socket has the potential to cause infection. If this happens, your dentist can prescribe antibiotics to knock out the infection and restore your comfort.
More good news about dry socket is that symptoms typically abate on their own within a week. The key is avoiding dry socket in the first place, if possible. If it should occur, we’re here to keep you comfortable.
No matter what dental procedure you seek our care, we are wholly committed to making your experience as positive and painless as possible.
Call our office at 916-983-6767 to schedule an appointment with us, or book one online. We are open for early morning and evening appointments Monday through Thursday, and from 8am-4pm every Saturday for your convenience.