how to tell if you have dry socket

Is your socket dry and empty and the pain radiates to your jaw? You might have a case of dry socket, which happens when a blood clot is dislodged at the site of tooth extraction.

Within 24 hours of extraction, you should see a colored clot at the site (the place where the tooth was extracted). This blood clot is necessary for the protection of the nerves and bones and for the healing of your gum tissues. If you see a white color instead, it could mean that the blood clot was dislodged, causing extreme pain that radiates to the jaw and ears.

What is a Dry socket?

Alveolar osteitis, or commonly known as the dry socket is a dental condition wherein the person has a permanent adult tooth extracted, and it is severely painful. This condition happens when blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction dislodge at the extraction site, that is before the wound has healed. 

The exposure of the underlying bone causes sharp pain in the socket and along the nerves and the person experiences a burning sensation to the side of the affected face. The socket then swells and it is filled with food pieces whenever you eat which results in more pain.

The pain usually starts one to three days after the person’s tooth is removed. You will only realize that you have a dry socket when the place of the tooth extraction becomes severely painful.

Dry Socket Causes

Although researchers have yet to find out the precise cause of dry socket, they already have some possible causes listed down. These causes include the following:

  • Bacteria contamination of the socket
  • Physical trauma at the place of surgery due to a difficult extraction that may have occurred during the surgery itself- this may include an impacted wisdom tooth.

Other causes: Smokers, birth control users and those who had their wisdom teeth pulled are most likely to have dry socket after tooth extraction.

Dry Socket Treatment

blood clot

Do you need to see a dentist immediately? No. But, if you feel uncomfortable and the pain interrupts with your daily activities, do it.

Here are the common treatment modes for dry socket:

OTC’s. Over-the-counter medications exist, but these are not enough to block out the pain caused by your condition. A dentist might offer some treatments to relieve pain but on some occasions, it’s best to consult oral surgeons for these.

Your dentist may prescribe NSAID’s and other pain medications to deal with pain and discomfort. Others may prescribe a stronger drug to deal with pain. The dentist may also give you anesthetics if it becomes severely painful.

Treatment process. The dentist or oral surgeon will most likely go through a long process of ensuring the proper healing of your dry socket- helping prevent it if possible.

Surgery. The first step of the entire process is the surgery. The surgery is the only possible solution to dry socket.

Mouthwash. However, after the surgery, there are some treatments you will go through. First off, the dentist will give you a dosage of antibacterial mouthwash immediately upon finishing the surgery so that any bacteria left from the process will be removed and to prevent infection.

Antiseptic dressings. The dentist will apply the medicated dressings and antiseptic solutions after the surgery. You wouldn’t want any more infection to the wounded and newly operated area, now would you?

Antibiotics. After the surgery, you will be taking oral antibiotics. If it seems as if you have a compromised immune system, your dentist or oral surgeon will most likely recommend you take oral medications.

Immunity Boost. It’s best if you have a good immune system to support your newly operated state. If the dentist or oral surgeon noticed that you need the medication, just follow orders and take them. They only want what’s best for you. It also helps if you take some teeth strengthening vitamins.

When you have a dry socket, make sure that it is clean, practice oral hygiene and don’t eat solid foods until it’s totally healed. It usually heals on its own, but if it the pain gets worse, see your dentist to look for immediate treatment.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.