What Is Dry Socket and How To Prevent It?

Girl with a blue shirt holding her mouth in pain because of a dry socket, with text - Novato Oral Surgery, CAIf you’re going in for a tooth extraction then you may be warned about a painful condition that you should avoid called dry socket. Here you will learn what you can do to prepare for your tooth extraction as well as understand what dry socket is and how you can prevent it. If dry socket is already causing pain inside your mouth then you will also learn how you can treat it.

What Causes Dry Socket?

Dry socket may sometimes happen after an adult tooth extraction. You may also hear it referred to as alveolar osteitis. Once the tooth has been removed blood clot will usually form over the tooth socket. This prevents the bone and nerves inside the socket from becoming exposed. However, if the blood clot becomes dislodged the socket becomes exposed causing great pain.  It will then be uncomfortable to eat and drink and infection is also more likely.

When Should I See The Dentist?

You should expect some discomfort after a tooth extraction as part of the healing process. However, if you see that the blood clot has been dislodged or if you have intense pain coming from the socket and spreading towards the ear then you may have developed a dry socket. Some may have a bad taste inside their mouth. If you have developed these symptoms then don’t just try to cover with painkillers. Instead, contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.

What Risk Factors Are Related to Dry Socket?

You may have a higher chance of developing dry socket if the following applies to you. You should try to limit what you can to help prevent dry socket. They include the following:

  • You are at a higher risk if you are having your wisdom teeth extracted.
  • If you have a history of dry socket it is more likely to occur again
  • The birth control pill can raise your risk
  • Tobacco products
  • If the extraction was due to infection or trauma
  • If you have a history of poor dental health 
  • You are on medication that inhibits blood clotting

How Can I Prevent Dry Socket?

When you go for your extraction your dentist will give you some aftercare instructions to help you reduce the risk of developing dry socket and aid the healing process. The purpose of these instructions is to protect the blood clot so that the bone and nerves do not become exposed.  These instructions may include:

  • Follow good oral hygiene practices
  • No rinsing or spitting for 24 hours
  • Not to drink through straws
  • No tobacco products for 72 hours
  • No hot foods and drinks
  • Limit diet to soft foods
  • No crunchy foods like chips, popcorn, and nuts.
  • Avoid alcohol 
  • Limit physical activity for 5-7 days

How to Treat Dry Socket

Thankfully dry socket is not a common condition. There is only a 2-5% chance of developing it. If you suspect that you have dry socket then call your dentist. They may instruct you to:

  • Take painkillers
  • Other medications to help with possible infection
  • Flush or Rinse with saltwater
  • Avoid drinking through a straw
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid sweet drinks
  • Following good oral practices 

If You Need A Tooth Extraction

If you need to have a tooth or teeth extracted then get in contact with the oral surgeons at Novato Oral Surgery. They perform single wisdom teeth extractions or full mouth extractions in the case that you will be fitted with dentures or dental implants. Their office is conveniently located in Novato, CA in northern Marin County and serves patients in the surrounding  San Francisco Bay area. Book an appointment now.

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