Tooth extraction may be necessary for numerous reasons. With proper care, healing from a tooth extraction can go very smoothly. However, if appropriate treatment is foregone, a temporary condition called “dry socket” can develop.
Dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis, can occur if a blood clot does not form, gets dislodged, or gets dissolved by our bodies clot busting pathway. If this happens, the underlying bone can be exposed causing pain.
The best way to avoid dry socket from developing after a tooth extraction is with proper oral care. At Tahoe Oral Surgery and Implant Center, we review and provide extraction patients with a complete list of post-operative care instructions. These include:
- take any prescribed medications or antibacterial mouthwash if needed and/or directed
- (We often send patients home with SOCKIT gel to help prevent dry socket.)
- keep sterilized gauze in place as directed
- rest after surgery
- drink lots of water and avoid hot and carbonated drinks following the surgery
- stop smoking and/or using tobacco products before and several days after surgery
- eat soft foods while healing
- avoid sports and/or vigorous activity that may dislodge the naturally occurring blood clot
- avoid disturbing the area immediately around the wound while toothbrushing or eating
If post-operative directions are followed, most people who have a tooth extracted will not develop dry socket. However, if the blood clot is dislodged, symptoms to look for include:
- the surgical site seemed to be getting better, then significant pain starts 3-7 days after surgery
- radiating pain from the tooth socket to the ear
- bone showing at the extraction site
- foul smell coming from the mouth
Though some pain may occur after a tooth extraction, increasing or severe pain indicates complications and you should contact your oral surgeon. Most often, placement of medication in the site provides immediate relief. If diagnosed with a dry socket, note that the condition is temporary if treated immediately. Treatment will be prescribed from your oral surgeon and may include gently flushing out the socket with a medicated rinse and taking pain medication.
If you had a tooth extracted and/or are concerned about developing dry socket, please contact us at Tahoe Oral Surgery and Implant Center to explore prevention options. We’re here to help you feel great and enjoy optimal dental health.