Nothing can replace a permanent natural tooth. But there are times when your adult tooth needs to be extracted. Having an impacted wisdom tooth, infection, severe decay, or injury can call for a tooth removal. But you don’t need to worry too much because an extraction by an expert can bring back your mouth to good health, eliminate the pain and discomfort due to the disease, and completely restore your tooth.
But, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Tooth extraction can bring with it a risk of dry socket. Now you may be thinking, “What is a dry socket, and when can you stop worrying about it after an extraction?” Keep reading to find answers to your concerns.
What is a Dry Socket?
A dry socket is a painful condition that can occur when your jaw is recovering from permanent tooth removal. When a tooth is extracted, it leaves an empty socket behind. To fill in the hole, your body tries to form a blood clot which is an essential part of the healing process. Clotting prevents infection by keeping the bacteria, food debris, and other contaminants out of the socket.
Sometimes, the blood clot fails to develop or gets dislodged due to several factors, exposing the surgery site.
You shouldn’t think of dry socket as a minor issue. Along with causing excruciating pain, it can elongate your healing process. The exposed socket can attract infections to the gum or jaw bone from where the tooth was extracted. When you eat or drink, food particles can easily get trapped in the uncovered hole. In addition to increasing the risk of infection, it can result in pain and bad breath.
What Are The Causes of Dry Socket?
A dry socket can occur when the healing process is interrupted. Here are some common reasons why you may develop a dry socket.
- If your gum tissue is swollen or infected before the tooth extraction, the chances of dry socket increase.
- Smoking creates a suction motion that can dislodge the blood clot, leading to a dry socket. Chewing tobacco can expose the empty socket to bacteria that can cause infections. For a speedy and healthy recovery, it’s important to follow the aftercare tips of your dentist or oral surgeon.
- Brushing your teeth vigorously or on the extraction site or forcefully rinsing can slow down healing, or at worst, give you a dry socket.
- Drinking with a straw before the gums heal completely can dislocate the blood clot and cause a dry socket. It’s essential to follow the care instructions of your dentist for a comfortable recovery.
When Can I Stop Worrying About Dry Socket?
Until and unless your hole heals completely, there are chances of dry socket formation. Typically you can stop worrying about the dry socket after 7-10 days because this is the amount of time that gums take to close. However, everyone heals at their own time, depending on age, oral health, hygiene, and other factors.
Believe in your care team and instantly communicate if you experience abnormal symptoms. Call your doctor if:
- you have a severe toothache
- bad taste in the mouth
- significant inflammation
- have a fever after tooth removal
Will Dry Socket Heal On Its Own?
If you think you have a dry socket, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your doctor can help you best deal with the issue.
- While you wait for your appointment, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water. A salty mixture has antibacterial properties that speed up the healing process.
- Apply a cold compress to the surgery site for 15 minutes on and off. This can help minimize the swelling. Later you can apply heat with a cloth to reduce pain.
- Placing damp black tea bags can also help manage the pain and inflammation. Place the tea bag for 15 minutes on the surgery site.
- Your doctor may recommend rinsing your mouth with an antibiotic rinse to help with the healing. Follow the provided instruction for a fast and healthy recovery.
How to Prevent Dry Socket
If you suspect a dry socket, don’t just ignore it. After your tooth extraction, follow the care instructions by your dentist, avoid smoking or drinking from the straw, and rest as much as you can. Until your gum heals completely, there’s always the risk of a dry socket. So, don’t miss your dental appointments and ask for medical help if you have abnormal symptoms.