What Are Treatment Options for Dry Socket?

Get Relief from Dry Socket Pain


After a wisdom tooth is pulled, a patient may experience what is called a dry socket. This can be rather painful, but it may not even begin to hurt until two to four days after the tooth has been removed. When you have a dry socket, you will likely need to go back to the dentist for dry socket treatment.



The Cause of Dry Socket Pain


When a wisdom tooth is extracted, it leaves a gap in the gums and the jawbone is exposed. Normally, the space left by the tooth will be filled in with a blood clot, which is part of the normal healing process.


Various situations can cause the blood clot to break loose. When it does, it interrupts the healing process and delays it. The nerves in your jaw bone become exposed, and this causes the pain. Things like cold air, cold water, food, salt, etc., can cause considerable pain.  


It is also possible that an infection can get into the jawbone, causing the pain. If it does, it may necessitate taking oral antibiotics, or possibly getting them intravenously.




Why Dry Socket Healing May Be Delayed


When the clot forms, it helps stop the flow of blood and also stimulates the area to heal the bone. The formation of the blood clot in the tooth socket can be delayed or interrupted by several things. When it is delayed, the patient may feel considerable pain for several weeks, but dry socket treatment can greatly reduce that time.


Risk Factors


Several risk factors will lead to the greater likelihood of getting a dry socket. Only about two percent of people will develop one. These risk factors include:


  • Smoking – The many chemicals in the smoke or liquid can slow healing and actually contaminate the open wound. The nicotine reduces the flow of blood in your mouth.


  • Bacteria – Some of the bacteria in your mouth can stop or hinder the formation of a blood clot – particularly periodontal disease. It may also help to break down the clot.


  • Sucking through a straw – or inhaling on a cigarette can cause the clot to break loose, as well as spitting, or rinsing your mouth aggressively.


  • Hormones – Women are at a greater risk of dry socket due to menstrual cycles, birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, etc.


  • Not following instructions – After an extraction, a dentist will often provide some instructions about what you should and should not do. Failure to follow this advice may lead to a dry socket formation.


Signs of Dry Socket


If you get a dry socket after a tooth extraction, there are several things to look for that will indicate you need to contact the dentist for some dry socket relief. According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms include:


  • Severe pain where the tooth was extracted within three days

  • Partial or complete loss of a blood clot in the socket

  • Bone will be visible in the socket

  • Pain may also be felt in your neck, ear, temple or eye

  • Bad breath and unpleasant taste in your mouth.


Dry Socket Remedies


Going back to the dentist for dry socket remedies will most likely result in several options or a combination of them. The treatment may include:


  • Removing debris in the socket by flushing it out.

  • Applying medicated dressings – the dentist may use a medicated gel along with medicated dressings. For severe pain, the dentist will determine if you will need multiple dressing changes.

  • Prescription pain medication – it is unlikely that over-the-counter medications will be of much help. The dentist will likely prescribe some more powerful medications to provide pain relief.

  • Prescription for antibiotics – to prevent infection in the bone.

  • Guidelines for home care – may include rinsing with salt water each day and using a special mouthwash.


After going to the dentist, you should notice some dry socket pain relief and the soon disappearance of any symptoms. Additional dressing changes may be needed to be obtained from the dentist.


Dry Socket Prevention


You can take several steps before and after the dental extraction that will help to reduce the possibility of getting a dry socket.


Before the Surgery


  • Stop smoking or using any tobacco products.

  • Check with the dentist about any medications or supplements you are currently taking to see if they will interfere with the formation of blood clots.

  • Women on birth control pills need to schedule the surgery when you are getting the lowest dose of estrogen - during your period.


After the Surgery


The following things should be avoided for at least three days after an extraction. They include:


  • Avoid smoking and using tobacco

  • Do not drink through a straw

  • Do not rinse your mouth more than prescribed.

  • Avoid exercise.



If you need treatment for a dry socket and you live in the Carrollton, TX or Grapevine, TX areas, you can get dry socket pain relief from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified Periodontist. You can set up an appointment or get more information by calling his office at (817) 756-8578.

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