Whether you’ve just endured a root canal or the removal of a wisdom tooth, you’ve likely already experienced a lot of distress and anxiety. So if a dry socket forms in the place where your tooth once stood, it can be extremely frustrating. Dry sockets are very painful and can extend your healing time. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to differentiate between normal post-extraction pain and dry socket pain, even if you aren’t familiar with the symptoms of a dry socket. After a quick visit to the dentist, you’ll start feeling better in no time.
Symptoms of a Dry Socket
What Is a Dry Socket?
A dry socket is a hole in your jaw’s bone that didn’t heal properly after a tooth extraction. Normally, a blood clot forms at the site of a tooth extraction, which protects your bone from infection. Your gums then heal over this blood clot. But if something happens to the blood clot or one doesn’t form at all, your bone becomes exposed to food, bacteria, and air. Dry sockets typically form infections, which can be painful and last anywhere from five to six days.
Signs You Have a Dry Socket
Typically you can identify whether or not you have a dry socket yourself, and the symptoms usually show up a few days after the extraction. However, the best way to know for sure is to visit your dentist’s office. Tell your dentist if you have any of these symptoms of a dry socket:
- An opening at the site of the extraction that has a white color (which is your exposed bone)
- Severe pain that persists a few days after the procedure
- An absence of a blood clot
- A foul-smelling odor coming from the extraction site
- A bad taste in your mouth
Dry Socket Treatment
To aid the healing process, your dentist will do two things: ease the pain and prevent the infection from spreading. The rest of the process is up to your mouth to complete. To decrease the pain, you can take over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medication, like ibuprofen. Depending on your pain levels, you might need a prescription-strength pain reliever, which your dentist can prescribe. If your mouth doesn’t respond to oral medication, your dentist might anesthetize the area.
To speed up the healing process, it is important to keep the dry socket site clean. Your dentist will start by cleaning out the dry socket, removing food particles and bacteria in the process. Then, he or she will fill the socket with a medicated dressing or a special paste to promote healing. As an added layer of protection, you might need to take a round of oral antibiotics. The goal is to prevent the infection from spreading and causing a dental emergency.
Dry Socket Prevention
Sometimes dry sockets form even if you take perfect care of your teeth post-extraction. However, it is well worth the effort to take steps to prevent a dry socket:
- If you smoke, stop. Blood clots are more common among smokers (source).
- Don’t use straws until your extraction site has fully healed.
- If you take birth control pills, schedule the extraction for when you take the lowest dose of estrogen. Too much estrogen can affect your body’s ability to form a blood clot.
Do you have any symptoms of a dry socket? If you do and you live near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. We are proud to offer you and your family a relaxing office environment while providing the care you need for a happier, healthier smile. It’s why we offer a variety of services like cleaning and exams, teeth whitening, and more. If you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or schedule one online. We look forward to hearing from you!