Undergoing surgery to have your wisdom teeth removed isn’t the most exciting experience, but it’s worse when you end up with a dry socket. Also known as alveolar osteitis, a dry socket is a painful dental condition that can occur after you have an adult tooth extracted. This condition arises when a blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction fails to develop. Typically, blood clots form at the site of tooth extraction to serve as a protective layer over the underlying bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket. Blood clots also promote the development of soft tissue over the clot.
Unfortunately, some patients who experience post-extraction complications may not know about dry socket. Even if a patient is aware that they’ve developed dry socket, they may not know how to heal it. The following guide is designed to help you understand and treat this unpleasant condition.
What Causes Dry Socket?
The following are the most common risk factors that will increase your likelihood of experiencing dry socket:
- Smoking after tooth extraction
- Taking birth control after surgery, as estrogen may cause the blood clot to dissolve
- Tissue trauma as a result of extraction
- Poor oral hygiene
- Underlying gum disease
After your tooth extraction surgery, your dentist will advise you against the following:
- Swishing water
- Drinking any carbonated beverages (soda, beer, sparkling water, etc.)
- Using a straw
Dentists believe you should avoid the activities listed above because the pressure from swishing liquids, sucking from a straw, and even spitting can abruptly dislodge your clot. Strenuous exercises will raise your blood pressure and make it difficult for the clot to stay still.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?
The main differentiator between tooth extraction pain and dry socket pain is timing. You should experience post-surgery pain one day after your surgery should, but dry socket pain usually peaks 3-5 days after the extraction. Moreover, dry socket pain is a sharp, severe pain that will radiate into your ears and the rest of your jaw. Other dry socket symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fever, and insomnia.
How Can I Heal My Dry Socket?
For starters, you can reduce your dry socket pain by taking over-the-counter pain relievers. The following five tips will help you treat your dry socket, at least until you can visit your dentist.
- Swish with warm water: Gently swishing with warm water can help cleanse the extraction site and reduce bacteria.
- Use honey: Coat your dry socket with honey to help reduce inflammation.
- Create a cold compress: Press a cold towel against your cheeks to soothe the pain.
- Drink tea: Drink anti-inflammatory tea to reduce inflammation throughout your body.
- Apply essential oils: Rub a small amount of essential oil, such as tea tree oil, over your dry socket. Only use essential oils when your pain is at its worst because consistently using oils inside your mouth will kill good bacteria.
Remember, these tips are designed to keep pain at bay temporarily, and not meant to replace a dentist appointment. If your dry socket pain persists after one week, you must visit your dentist.
If you plan on undergoing oral surgery, you’ll need to turn to an experienced orthodontist to reduce your likelihood of having a dry socket.
The orthodontists at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah are board-certified surgeons who will provide you with the best oral surgery treatment available.