Dry socket is one of the most dreaded complications after tooth extraction. It can occur whenever a tooth is removed but is more common after wisdom tooth removal than other types of extractions. The good news is, with a few preventative tips, you can dramatically reduce your risk of this painful condition.
Dry socket is relatively common. Ten to twenty percent of patients develop this complication after a tooth extraction. It is more common in women and smokers. The risk of developing a dry socket shouldn’t keep you from pursuing necessary dental work. Leaving teeth in that need to come out carries its own set of risks. Our highly skilled oral surgeons will help you navigate your tooth removal, helping you to avoid complications for a pleasant recovery experience.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?
When a tooth is removed, it leaves a hole in the bone, called a socket. A blood clot forms in this socket, protecting the bone and nerves underneath during the healing process. Dry socket occurs when this blood clot becomes dislodged too soon. This leaves the bone and nerves exposed. Dry socket is not an infection but does require treatment.
Common symptoms of dry socket include:
- Pain that starts about two days after tooth extraction.
- Severe pain, often radiating to the ear.
- Bad breath.
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- White or dry appearance at the extraction site.
If you have any of these symptoms after wisdom tooth removal or any other extraction, call your oral surgeon and let them know. Treatment for dry socket can reduce the pain, severity, and duration of the symptoms.
How to Avoid Dry Socket
Taking a few simple steps after tooth extraction can dramatically reduce the risk of dry socket.
- Good Oral Hygiene- Oral hygiene is always important, but even more so after an extraction when there is an open hole in the mouth. We’ll give you detailed instructions for cleaning your teeth, rinsing the extraction sites, and using oral rinses if needed.
- Don’t Smoke- Smokers are at a significantly higher risk for dry socket. Avoid smoking for at least three days after your procedure.
- Do Not Touch the Extraction Sites- Leave the extraction sites undisturbed. Do not touch them or brush them, or the adjacent teeth, with a toothbrush.
- Do Not Use a Straw- Sucking on a straw can dislodge the blood clot. Do not use a straw for at least three days.
- Focus on Soft Foods- Soft, easy to eat foods are best after a tooth extraction. Avoid foods that leave particles in the mouth, like rice or nuts.
- Medications- Some medications can increase your risk of dry socket. Let us know about all medications that you’re taking, both over-the-counter and prescription.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have Dry Socket?
If you notice any signs of dry socket after a tooth extraction, call our offices and let us know. The condition is painful, but also very treatable. Most patients feel better within 1 hour of their treatment.
Dry socket is treated by gently irrigating the area to remove food particles and placing a medicated dressing into the socket. This procedure is repeated after 5-7 days. Most patients will require 2-3 dry socket treatments.
Learn more about wisdom tooth removal in Austin, TX by scheduling a consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery. Call today at 512-327-7233.