How to prevent dry socket: Methods, symptoms, and seeking help – Medical News Today

How to

Dry socket is the common name for alveolar osteitis, which is inflammation within an empty tooth socket. This dental complication can occur following a tooth extraction.
In this article, we explain what causes dry socket and how a person can prevent it. We also cover how to care for the mouth after a tooth extraction and when to see a dentist.
After a tooth extraction, a blood clot usually forms over the tooth socket. This blood clot protects the nerve endings in the bone and is a normal part of the healing process.
However, in some cases, the blood clot either fails to form or becomes dislodged. As a result, the bone and nerves in the socket become exposed. Dry socket is delayed healing, and it can be very painful.
According to a 2018 article, dry socket occurs in about 1–5% of all tooth extractions and 38% of wisdom tooth extractions.
A person should avoid doing anything that might disturb the blood clot after the tooth extraction.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a person should avoid the following:
It is also important for a person to let the dentist know about any medications that they are currently taking, as research has identified a link between certain birth control pills and occurrences of dry socket.
It is important to follow the dentist’s aftercare instructions regarding how to take care of the extraction site, as this will lead to a better outcome.
If a person has any questions that the instructions do not cover, they should ask the dentist. The specific instructions may vary among dentists, but they are likely to include the following:
According to the ADA, a person should avoid cleaning the teeth that surround the extraction site for the day. However, they should brush and floss the other teeth.
The day after, a person can begin to clean the teeth next to the extraction site. They should also gently rinse the mouth with warm salt water after eating. People can make salt water by stirring half a teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water.
The ADA recommend talking to the dentist about using saltwater rinses if a person has high blood pressure. People with hypertension may need to use warm water instead.
A person who has had a tooth extraction will feel discomfort, such as swelling and soreness. However, if the pain worsens or improves but then returns a few days later, it may be due to dry socket.
Other possible symptoms include:
Additionally, there could be exposed bone at the site of the extraction.
Potential treatment options may include:
A person should make an appointment with their dentist if they think that they may have a dry socket. Treatment will help relieve pain and promote faster healing.
The dentist can also make sure that the pain is not due to an infection instead of dry socket. An infection can lead to more serious issues, and it may spread into the bone, causing severe swelling. If this occurs, a person will require oral or even intravenous antibiotics to tackle the infection.
A person should see a dentist if they experience:
Dry socket is a painful condition that can occur after a tooth extraction.
A person should follow their dentist’s aftercare instructions to minimize the risk of developing dry socket.
The dentist is likely to advise the person to avoid smoking, using straws, eating hard foods, and rinsing the mouth too vigorously.
If pain around the extraction site becomes worse or does not improve in time, a person should see a dentist for treatment.
Last medically reviewed on June 15, 2020
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