Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Socket

Dry socket

With any tooth extraction, there is always the risk of developing dry socket. While dry socket is considered a complication following the tooth removal process, it is a rare occurrence. Fortunately if you do develop dry socket, there are treatments to help support the healing process and ease symptoms.

To ease your concerns, this article will focus on the most common dry socket FAQs.

What Is Dry Socket?

Dry socket, medically referred to as Alveolar Osteitis, is the inflammation of the alveolar bone which occurs after a tooth extraction. Typically, immediately after a tooth extraction your body will naturally begin to form a blood clot to protect the hole, or socket. By forming a protective layer, a “scab” will allow the socket to heal naturally.

In rare cases, the blood clot does not form, forms improperly, dissolves before the tissue healing begins, or is removed by exterior sources. This situation exposes the nerves and bone within the gums.

With dry socket, the opening or wound is susceptible to food particles and air contaminants that can agitate the area. Without proper treatment, dry socket can lead to serious infection.

How Do You Get Dry Socket?

As mentioned above, dry socket develops when the natural forming blood clot within the socket is disturbed or dissolved. This can be caused by trauma during the extraction or the action of sucking on a straw, cigarette or sipping soups for example. In some cases, dry socket happens when a blood clot doesn’t develop and the socket is left opened to the elements of the mouth.

How Do You Know if You Have Dry Socket?

A tooth extraction can leave the mouth sore and uncomfortable for several days. If you experience pain post oral surgery that progressively gets worse, a dry socket may be the culprit.

As dry socket appears within the first few days after having a tooth removed, there are tell-tale signs of the condition. Most people have excruciating mouth and head pain with a dry socket while others may have extremely bad breath, visible bone and a foul taste in the mouth. If the blood clot is dislodged shortly after the extraction, the taste of blood will be the first sign of dry socket.

When looking into the mouth at the extraction site, the area will look white if dry socket has developed. This white is the bone within the gum. Other symptoms may include throbbing at the site, swelling and radiating neck pain.

How Long Does Dry Socket Last?

Following all of your dentist’s post extraction care tips will help prevent dry socket from occurring. Dry socket usually develops within the first three to five days after a tooth extraction and lasts up to 10 days. The length of time can also depend on proper care and treatment of the condition.

Will Dry Socket Heal on Its Own?

Yes, dry socket will heal on its own within the first two weeks but may require further treatment from your dentist. There are also home remedies that can help with symptoms of dry socket and help speed the healing process.

What Should You Do for Dry Socket?

If you suspect you have dry socket, call your dentist immediately for an emergency visit. While dry socket can naturally heal on its own, your dentist can help speed the healing process and alleviate pain and discomfort by flushing out the area with a saline solution.

The socket will be packed with medicated dressing for further protection. Avoid use of tobacco products, consumption of acidic and spicy foods, and carbonated beverages. You may also be prescribed an antibiotic.

Your dentist will apply the appropriate treatment and give instructions for home therapy. It is crucial to maintain proper oral care such as brushing, flossing and rinsing your mouth to prevent further complications. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help loosen and remove any food particles. Drink cold fluids to promote tissue healing and avoid hot fluids for at least one to two days after extraction.

Is There Pain Relief for a Dry Socket?

Yes, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs) can help. For severe pain, your dentist can prescribe a strong pain reliever. Using a cool ice pack on the outside of the mouth near the extraction site can also help ease discomfort.

How Common Is Dry Socket?

Dry socket is actually not a common occurrence. Only 2% to 5% of people with a tooth extraction experience dry socket, according to the Canadian Dental Association. In the case of a wisdom tooth extraction, this rate jumps to 38% due to the nature of the extraction. In all extractions, dry socket is more common with the bottom teeth than the top.

How Long Does a Dry Socket Take to Heal?

For most dry socket cases, it takes seven to 10 days for new tissue to grow and cover the exposed socket. The healing process requires proper care and strict attention to avoiding actions that can damage the socket.

Princeview Dental Periodontal Services at Etobicoke

If you have any questions or concerns about dry socket, speak to the dentist at Princeview Dental Group. Our office provides regular dental services, cosmetic dentistry, oral surgery and emergency services for patients in Etobicoke.

We understand the gravity of dry socket and offer proper treatment to ease the symptoms. Depending on the severity, we may book follow-up care appointments to ensure the healing process is uninterrupted. Call us today to discuss your dental needs or you can visit us in person—we are always accepting new patients. Please visit us at our new location under The Crooked Cue Pub and Restaurant at address, 3052 Bloor Street West, just west of Royal York Road on the north side.

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