This may be your first time encountering dry socket. It doesn’t really come as a surprise because it rarely happens — it is said that only 2 to 5 percent of all people who had a tooth extracted will suffer from a dry socket.

You may or may not have this problem after getting a tooth of yours pulled by a dentist. But when it strikes, you will surely know about it. Dry socket is an extremely painful condition. Read on to know a few more very important matters about dry socket. This way, you may know what you are dealing with in case it strikes.

Cause

Dry socket happens when a blood clot where a tooth was extracted falls out of the socket. Sometimes it is also due to the failure of a blood clot to form. You see, a blood clot should stay right where a tooth was removed because it puts an end to bleeding and at the same time promotes speedy healing.

In other words, a blood clot functions as a cover of the socket before the bone has the chance to fill the area. Without it in place, there is a lot of pain as the nerves in the area are still exposed.

A blood clot can be dislodged or may not form properly because of a variety of reasons. For instance, it can be due to mechanical grounds such as using a drinking straw or aggressive rinsing of the mouth. Sometimes it can be brought about by chemical causes, like cigarette smoking because nicotine can impede blood supply to the socket. A bacterial or viral infection may also keep a blood clot from forming.

Risk Factors

Just like what’s stated earlier, dry socket does not occur frequently — it strikes only about 2 to 5 percent of those who had a tooth removed by a dentist. Experts say that a dry socket is more common in women. They say that it has something to do with menstrual cycles and hormonal levels. Speaking of hormones, women who take birth control pills are at higher risk than those who don’t.

If you are a smoker, you are likely to end up with a dry socket because of poor blood circulation in the mouth. Having poor oral hygiene can cause infection, and this normally leads to a dry socket. Those who have a history of suffering from the problem and people who received more trauma than usual during tooth extractions are at greater risk.

You may end up with a dry socket if you use a drinking straw, consume carbonated or fizzy drinks, and aggressively rinse the mouth within 3 days after having a tooth of yours pulled.

Symptoms

It is normal to experience pain after getting a tooth extracted. However, there’s a notable difference between normal tooth extraction pain and a dry socket — the former tends to peak and disappear within a 24-hour period, while the later strikes 3 to 5 days after the dental procedure, and tends to bug you until treated by a dentist.

Since the nerves in the area are exposed, a dry socket can leave you in a great deal of pain. This is especially true when you breathe through your mouth and consume cold foods and drinks. By the way, pain brought about by a dry socket may spread up and down your face each time.

It’s not just pain that a dry socket causes, but also embarrassment. That’s because it can leave your breath reeking. In addition, you might have an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Treatment

An OTC medication for pain may be taken, such as ibuprofen, aspirin or any other type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). If it fails to eliminate the pain, a dentist may prescribe a stronger painkiller. Sometimes antibiotics may be administered if there’s an infection.

Your dentist will also clean the socket and fill the area where there should be a blood clot with a special paste or medicated dressing. This helps promote healing as well as deal with pain. There are times when the socket will have to be packed with surgical foam or bone graft material.

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