When necessary, removing problem teeth can greatly benefit your oral health by preventing problems such as impaction, crowding and alignment issues, and infections. And, since many people don’t have enough room in their mouths, wisdom teeth extractions are commonly needed. One complication that can occur with extractions is dry socket. Fortunately, however, it only occurs in an estimated 1.8% of patients. And, while dry socket can be uncomfortable, there are ways to either prevent it altogether or effectively treat it. Keep reading to learn more about this condition, including how long it lasts and what you can do about it!
What Is Dry Socket and How Long Does It Last?
Dry socket occurs when you’re healing after a tooth extraction. One of the early steps in the healing process is the formation of a blood clot that protects the empty tooth socket (almost like a scab that forms on the skin after a cut). Dry socket occurs when this blood clot either dissolves or becomes dislodged, exposing the tissue and sensitive nerves underneath.
Dry socket usually occurs within 3-5 days of an extraction and more commonly in the lower jaw. Symptoms include severe pain, a throbbing sensation, an unpleasant taste, a fever, or swollen glands. It can last for up to 7 days.
By following your dentist’s instructions carefully, dry socket can usually be prevented. But if you notice any of the signs above, schedule an appointment right away. The earlier you get treatment, the better.
Preventing Dry Socket
- Again, be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions exactly.
- Keep the area clean, but do so very gently and carefully. This includes brushing around the extraction site twice a day, making sure not to get the bristles directly into the socket. Also, rinse out your mouth with salt water 3-4 times each day, making sure that you don’t swish vigorously.
- Your dentist may also give you a syringe to gently flush the extraction site directly.
- Don’t use a straw or smoke, both of which can dislodge the blood clot.
- Don’t drink anything carbonated or eat hard or crunchy foods.
Treatment For Dry Socket
A dentist can do the following to relieve your pain, prevent infection, and promote healing if dry socket develops:
- First, they’ll thoroughly clean and disinfect the area.
- Then they’ll place a medicated dressing in the socket.
- They’ll also discuss pain medication as needed, which could be an over-the-counter option or a prescription.
- In many cases, you’ll need to return in 7-10 days to make sure the area is healing well.
The risk of developing dry socket is low, especially when you follow the guidelines above. On the off chance that it does develop, a dentist has effective ways to relieve your pain and help the area heal properly.
About the Author
With nearly 30 years of experience as a family dentist, Dr. Christopher J. Holland has performed countless wisdom teeth extractions. With a dedication to ongoing education and clinical excellence, he provides every patient with outstanding care before, during, and after extraction procedures. If you have any other questions about dry socket, you can reach Dr. Holland via his website.