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25 March 2014

Dry Sockets after Tooth Removals

Tooth extraction often goes without incident. In a matter of days the wound from the extracted tooth will heal and life goes on.  This is primarily because of a blood clot that forms where the tooth is extracted, insulating the bone and nerves from bacteria in the mouth that may cause infection, pain and swelling. However there are instances when this blood clot is either dislodged, fail to form, or get dissolved in the process of recovery. This is called a dry socket and this increases the risks for infection and can also cause a lot of pain both in the mouth and in the face. This needs immediate attention from a dental health professional. Fortunately this is not a common occurrence with only two to five percent of patients who have their tooth extracted will end up suffering from this side effect.

The causes and symptoms of dry sockets

There are a number of causes why dry sockets occur. One common cause for dry sockets is a dislodged blood clot in the space where the extracted tooth had been. The blood clot can also get easily dissolved by fluid intake (common enough when a patient uses straw when taking in beverages). Rinsing and spitting forcefully can also either dissolve or dislodge blood clots from the extraction area. Pain from a dry socket often starts a day or two after extraction. People who have a dry socket can see bone where the extracted tooth used to sit instead of a blood clot. Bad breath together with an unpleasant taste in the mouth can also be observed. These are telltale signs that a person has a dry socket.

Risk Factors of Dry Socket

The most common question people ask about dry socket is what are its risk factors? Top on list is smoking. Studies have shown that people who smoke has a higher chance of having a dry socket after an extraction. It is therefore recommended that people who smoke stop lighting up 24 hours before and after tooth extraction. Other risk factors include using oral contraceptives, poor oral hygiene, wound trauma, exerting too much effort after tooth extraction, and people who have previous history of the condition.

Treating dry socket

The good news is dry sockets can easily be treated. One of the most basic treatment options for a dry socket is anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin. However there are severe cases where over the counter drugs cannot help at all. A dentist may provide for a prescription drug that can help ease the pain. Dental health professionals often compliment pain relief drugs with medicated dressing. This intervention must be done daily to replace the dressing and to ensure that there are no debris dislodged in the empty space. This is done until such time that the wound heals and the pain eases away. Antibiotics are often given from the time pain is felt by the patient. This is for preventing infection and swelling which can make the pain even worse.

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