Are you due to have a tooth taken out in the near future? Tooth extraction is never exactly welcome but it shouldn’t be a problem. Afterwards you can expect to feel some mild discomfort but this should soon disappear as the empty socket begins to heal. If the pain increases after a couple of days or so, you may have a condition called dry socket. This only affects between 2% and 5% of people after a tooth has been removed and although uncomfortable is easily treatable.
What Is Dry Socket?
When one of our dentists at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center Brooklyn needs to extract the tooth, this leaves an empty socket where the tooth and tooth roots used to be. Soon after the tooth is removed, a blood clot begins to form in the empty socket. It’s essential that the blood clot forms as it protects the bones and nerves that have become exposed when the tooth was extracted. Very occasionally, this blood clot can break loose or will dissolve after just a day or two. This means the bone and nerves in the empty socket will become exposed to food, drink, the air and anything else that you put in your mouth. The result can be infection and pain that may last for several days.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Dry Socket?
Technically, anyone can develop dry socket but some people are more at risk including those who:
- Don’t have very good oral hygiene
- Have had wisdom teeth extracted
- Has developed dry socket after previous extractions
- Experienced a more traumatic tooth extraction
How Will I Know If I’ve Developed Dry Socket?
You might be able to see the exposed bone if you examine the area where the tooth was extracted. However the main symptom is pain that typically starts a couple of days after the tooth was taken out. It will gradually worsen and the pain may radiate outwards towards your ear. Additional symptoms include having an unpleasant taste or having bad breath.
Treating Dry Socket
If you think you have developed dry socket then please contact our dental office for an appointment. In the meantime you can take over-the-counter painkillers to help relieve discomfort. We will need to clean out to the infected socket and can either apply cream or a dressing to help relieve any discomfort. You may need to come back to our dental office so we can check the empty socket is healing properly and if necessary can change any dressings. Dry socket will slow down healing but shouldn’t have any long-term effects.
How Can I Avoid Developing Dry Socket?
We will give you lots of instructions on how to look after the extraction site, including how to keep it clean. It’s important that you follow these instructions to reduce your risk of dry socket. If you smoke then please avoid doing so for at least the first few days after an extraction, and avoid spitting or drinking through a straw as both these actions can dislodge the blood clot.
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