Dry socket is a common condition which is caused by tooth extractions; if you have recently had a tooth extraction it is something to be aware of, but it is still quite rare. In modern dentistry, less than 2% of all patients suffer from a mild case and it is not something we see much of at our dentist in Chester. So, let’s try to settle some of the worries you may have.
When a tooth is removed the surrounding gums should close around the vacant tooth socket, migrating over the exposed bone. If this process is disrupted, this can lead to a permanently exposed jawbone. This has its own risks with infection, but is also uncomfortable with the nerves in the jaw being exposed to air.
There are greater risks of a dry socket forming with wisdom tooth extraction, which is why we usually stitch the gum post extraction of wisdom teeth.
After an extraction, the first 24 hours are the most important to prevent dry socket. This is why we do not recommend using mouthwash and only lightly brushing during this critical period. If the blood clot in the tooth socket is not disrupted you should not have any issues with a dry socket.
This risk increases dramatically if you have a history of dry socket, are a smoker or are on oral contraceptives. With difficult extractions, the resulting tissue damage to the gum seems to make a dry socket more likely. There doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet solution to preventing all cases of dry socket, but with care and attention, the vast majority of cases are avoidable. If you have had an extraction at our dentist in Chester and the discomfort continues for more than 10 days, call us and we will be able to advise you further or book you in for a check-up.
Once a dry socket has occurred, we will be able to mitigate it by cleaning it out to prevent any bone infections and will pack the socket with an antiseptic numbing fibre to relieve the symptoms.
This will allow tissue migration beneath the fibre, which can be removed at a later date.
Your mouth will have to be kept extremely clean during this process, with regular use of a saltwater or prescription mouth rinse. As well as avoiding alcohol and smoking due to their retarding effect on healing and tissue migration, it may be necessary to redress the socket. If so, we will provide dressing and a member of our clinical team can tutor you on applying them at home, as well as how to brush without disturbing the gum.
For the management of further soreness, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatories are recommended. If over-the-counter options are insufficient, we will prescribe a stronger medication. The application of a cold compress can help to reduce swelling. The use of steroids will slow the rate at which the dry socket closes.
If the discomfort spreads along the jaw or to the eye socket, there may be a bone infection, which can be very stubborn once they become established. Please inform us immediately so treatment can start at the dentist in Chester without delay.