You have probably heard of dry socket before, but have never investigated exactly what it involves. This is understandable, after all, nobody really wants to think about having complications when they have a tooth pulled. You may be surprised to learn that dry socket, medically known as alveolar osteitis, only happens to a tiny percentage (between two and five percent) of people having tooth extractions, and that it is quite easy to treat.
Dry Socket Symptoms
Dry socket symptoms generally begin with pain in the area where the tooth was pulled. Over time, untreated dry socket can result in pain that radiates to the ear area as well. Other typical symptoms include bad breath and having a consistently bad taste or smell in the mouth.
You may notice dry socket symptoms immediately after a tooth extraction, or it could take a few days. This all depends upon the formation of the protective blood clot that should exist over the area where the tooth used to be.
How Dry Socket Happens
After a tooth extraction, a small protective blood clot should form in the area where the tooth had been. The purpose of this blood clot is to cover, and thereby protect, the now-exposed bone and nerve network. Occasionally, this blood clot can dissolve prematurely or it can move away from the proper area, leaving the area fully exposed to everything that goes into the mouth. When air, food, beverages, mouthwash, and any other substances touch the delicate nerves and exposed bone, infection — and the pain that goes along with it — is often the result.
Help for Dry Socket
It is important to contact Dr. Herbst to get help for dry socket as soon as you think there may be a problem. We can help by cleaning the socket, extracting any debris that has gotten into the area, and packing the area with a medicated paste or gauze. This medicated dressing will need to be changed regularly to promote the fastest healing.
Dr. Herbst may also give you a prescription for antibiotics that will assist in faster healing, if necessary. Generally, you can use ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief.