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Assessing Your Smile for Dry Socket Following Tooth Extraction

October 17, 2017

female patient having tooth extractedWhen you have one or more third molars or other teeth removed, you will likely believe your days of discomfort or pain are done. However, a small number of patients develop a painful condition called dry socket following tooth extraction. Actually, dry socket may occur for a surprising reason – excessive cleaning! Keep reading to learn more about dry socket, how to prevent it, and how you can care for your smile when dry socket occurs.

What is Dry Socket?

Dry socket is a condition that occurs following tooth removal. After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms over the top of the extraction site to protect it during healing. Sometimes, the blood clot is accidentally dislodged before the socket heals. This exposes the sensitive gum and bone tissue to air, foods, and foreign objects, which can lead to pain or sensitivity. Patients who use tobacco, drink carbonated beverages, chew using the treated area too soon, brush the treatment sight, and those who take certain medications are at increased risk for dry socket following tooth removal.

How Will I Know I Have Dry Socket?

Patients with dry socket will experience a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Severe, throbbing pain around the socket
  • Radiating pain that may affect the head, ear, or neck as well as the mouth
  • Bad breath, foul taste in the mouth that is strong and does not respond to oral hygiene
  • Visible bone tissue inside the socket
  • Gray discoloration around the outside of the socket

How is Dry Socket Treated?

Many patients with dry socket choose to manage their symptoms at home. In most cases, dry socket will heal on its own, but as the site heals patients will likely continue to experience discomfort. If you do choose to treat dry socket at home, you need to clean the wound with cool water, irrigate the socket with saline, and keep gauze over the socket. A dentist will perform a similar socket irrigation and wound dressing. However, the dentist will provide a dressing that contains soothing ointments that will relieve pain and promote faster healing. The doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers.

Meet Dr. Lee

Skilled Marietta oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Jeff Lee, offers patients safe, effective tooth extraction. With proper tooth removal and time spent discussing postoperative care, Dr. Lee’s patients rarely experience dry socket or other issues following surgical tooth extraction. If you do experience pain that does not lessen several days after tooth extraction or other surgical treatment, please don’t hesitate to contact Muskingum Valley Oral Surgery right away. In most cases, we can see emergency patients immediately.  We’ll walk you through pain management and first aid methods over the phone to ensure you’re comfortable until you reach our office.

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