One of the most common complications after the removal of a tooth is dry socket. Dry socket is more common with the extraction of wisdom teeth. Although the condition causes great discomfort, it is fully treatable.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort experienced following a tooth extraction is considered temporary and is likely to resolve over time as the area around the tooth heals. However, if the pain becomes unbearable and does not subside after a few days, it could be associated with a condition referred to as dry socket or alveolar osteitis. Dry socket is only known to occur in around 5% of people who undergo tooth extractions. Dry socket is a condition that could be very painful and may cause severe discomfort for patients suffering from it. Luckily, the condition is easily treatable; thus, if you feel that you may have dry socket, do not hesitate to inform your dentist immediately.
The ‘socket’ which is referred to is nothing more than a vacuum or a hole that is created in the bone of the extracted tooth. Once the tooth is extracted, there is a blood clot that appears in the socket which is meant to protect bone and nerves underlying the tooth. However, in certain cases the blood clot can dissolve or disintegrate after the tooth is extracted. This immediately exposes the nerve and the underlying bone to various things like fluids, food, and air which could result in infection and intense pain. This pain can be temporary or even last up to 5-6 days.
Once the tooth is extracted, blood clots formed at the region help heal the area and form new tissue. In some cases, the blood clot dissolves or gets displaced from the region, which exposes the bones and nerves at the region of the extraction.
Risk Factors for Developing Dry Socket
- Poor hygiene Oral hygiene
- Extraction of wisdom tooth
- Trauma during extraction
- Certain medications like birth control pills
- History of dry socket in earlier extractions
- Too much oral rinsing after extraction
- Roots and bones remaining in the wound after extraction
- Drinking from a straw after tooth extraction
Studies show that about 25% to 30% of the people who had their lower wisdom teeth extracted developed dry socket.
Symptoms of dry socket begin three to four days following an extraction. The most common symptom of this condition is the presence of severe pain in the region which persists for several days. This pain may spread to other regions of the face like the eye, ear, neck, or temple. This pain is usually found in the same side as that of extraction. Bad breath is often another occurrence that is present with dry socket. The socket may appear empty, revealing a dry opening at the region of extraction. The whitish colored bone may be exposed at the region. Many people with this condition may complain of an unpleasant taste in the mouth. The lymph nodes may also be enlarged near the jaw and neck. Some people may develop a slight fever with this condition. You should not miss meeting the dentist if the pain worsens or a new pain develops a few days following the extraction.
Pain and discomfort caused by the development of dry socket can be reduced with the help of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. A stronger dose may be required if over the counter medications do not provide pain relief.
A dentist may remove the debris present in the open socket and fill it with medication. Antibiotics are often recommended to prevent infection in the dry socket. Rinsing with mouthwash or salt water may also be suggested to alleviate symptoms.
Home Remedies to Treat Dry Socket
There are certain natural methods of relieving the pain associated with dry socket. The most effective ways of naturally treating dry socket at home include:
- Ice: This is one of the easiest and the most effective ways of treating dry socket at home naturally. A cold compress with ice cubes or extremely cold water can help in treating the painful symptoms associated with dry socket. The cold wave that the ice cubes send out helps in relieving the nerves of the intense pain. If you are using this remedy, make sure you have a few pieces of ice cubes tightly packed in a piece of cloth. Apply some pressure on the affected areas with this wrapped up cloth and allow the cold to relieve the pain. This compress should be kept on for about 15-20 minutes with a frequency of about 3 to 5 times a day.
- Clove: Clove is known to be a natural remedy for treating a number of dental and oral health issues. With its several properties that are anesthetic and analgesic in nature, clove has the power to ease pain very effectively. One should use this treatment as soon as the pain emerges rather than waiting for it to spread. One of the most effective ways of using clove for treating dry socket is by soaking a cotton swab in some clove oil and placing it around the affected areas of the mouth. A warm water rinse helps in further soothing the pain in the nerves.
- Water: Water is one of the best ways to manage the dry socket condition. Consuming adequate amounts of water can significantly help in reducing the pain and the swelling caused by dry socket.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is most known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to reducing inflammation caused by dry socket, turmeric also prevents bacterial accumulation in the mouth. A mixture of powdered turmeric in some hot water can be used as a rinse to relieve pain.
- Yogurt: The good bacteria that is present in yogurt is more than enough to eradicate gum problems and other dental problems like dry socket. Increase your intake of yogurt throughout the day to ease dry socket.
- Chamomile: Chamomile is a very common natural treatment that is available in the form of an herb. Chamomile is packed with several ingredients that are known to have a soothing impact on various conditions. It can be very handy in easing the inflammation caused by dry socket; thus, reducing pain. Consuming chamomile tea twice a day can be of great benefit for those dealing with dry socket.
- Garlic: Enhanced with several anti-inflammatory properties, garlic is yet another natural home remedy that helps in dealing with dry socket. Chew on some fresh garlic and let the juice of the garlic spread around the mouth. Continue for about 5 minutes and then spit it out. Rinse the mouth with hot water. This exercise should be repeated several times until the pain subsides.
Though these natural remedies can be useful, it is important to consult your dentist if the pain associated with dry socket becomes unbearable.