After having wisdom teeth removed, dry socket can occur and can be an extremely painful, uncomfortable condition, but only temporary. It is more likely to occur if, rather than the upper ones, lower wisdom teeth have been lost. Fortunately, it affects less than 5% of patients, but to avoid it, there are precautions that can be taken.
A socket is essentially a bone hole where the tooth has been removed. When healing takes place, it will fill with blood that then clots and protects the bone and nerves underneath. Blood clots are critical for healing. This can lead to dry sockets if the blood clot is dislodged.
What then occurs is that air and food waste, bacteria, and saliva are exposed to the bone and nerves, which can be found in the socket where the blood clot should be.
The pain typically begins about two days after extracting the tooth and can progress to become very acute in the ear. Some signs are poor breath, an ugly taste in the mouth, and a white looking socket itself.
Blood clots can be dislodged in many forms, including smoking and drinking through a straw. Both of these tasks can cause suction that can remove the blood clot. It can also trigger the clot to move by rubbing the region with your fingertips.
In addition, coughing, sneezing, and spitting can cause debris to enter the socket. Poor oral hygiene is another contributory factor, and women who are taking a birth control pill are 30% more likely to develop a dry socket. Once the blood clot has been dislodged it is very easy for food and other debris to get stuck in the socket.
Obviously, they are incredibly difficult to extract without the appropriate equipment once food or other particles are in the socket. Certainly, it is not a choice to attempt to extract them with a toothbrush from what is essentially an open wound.
Visiting the dentist every day for a couple of days could be appropriate. The residue from the socket will be removed and a medicated paste will be added and this will need to be updated every day. For the discomfort, an anti-inflammatory will be administered, and if the socket develops an infection, an antibiotic may also be administered by the dentist.
Fortunately, dry socket is not all that common a problem, but when it occurs it needs prompt treatment.
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent dry socket after wisdom tooth removal. These are:
- Do NOT touch the area with fingers or anything else.
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water after eating in order to kill bacteria.
- If the dentist has prescribed an oral rinse, use it as instructed.
- Do NOT smoke for at least 24 hours after the extraction.
- Do not eat nuts or other foods that are likely to leave debris in the mouth, such as pasta, chocolate, cereals, etc.
- Try to eat soft foods such as soup, mashed potatoes, and so on.
- Avoid fizzy drinks.
- Tell your dentist about any medication you are taking.
If you need to extract the wisdom tooth, contact us immediately for an appointment. Before your service, we will give you some more tips on preventing dry sockets.
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At Smile Esthetics Scottsdale, we make sure that our patients are well treated with our professional dentist. Give us a call at (480) 867-1727 today!