Following a tooth extraction, a unique, temporary but painful complication is called dry socket, and it needs to be treated by your dentist. There are things you can do to prevent dry socket from occurring, making your recovery quicker and easier.
Dr. Sheldon Kupferman of Riverdale Dental Arts in the Bronx, New York, understands how difficult a tooth extraction can be, which is why he wants you to know what to do to prevent complications like dry socket. Here are his tips.
Extraction and dry socket
Teeth extraction is usually a treatment of last resort. Some reasons include:
- An accident that shears a tooth or breaks it into pieces
- An infection that’s spread to the tooth
- Extreme tooth pain
- Impacted wisdom teeth or those causing a crowding problem
- A badly damaged tooth too expensive to restore
If Dr. Kupferman decides that pulling your tooth is the best option, he does it as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Once the tooth is gone, a blood clot forms in the gum tissue of the socket where the root was anchored. Clot formation is critical for the healing process, protecting the underlying bone, tissues, and nerves. If the blood clot doesn’t form for some reason, or if it becomes dislodged, the exposed nerves respond by producing intense pain and other symptoms. Medically called alveolar osteitis, this condition is commonly known as dry socket.
Dry socket symptoms
Symptoms vary in type and severity from one individual to the next, but usually include:
- Severe pain at the socket site
- Pain radiating from the socket to the neck, eye, ear, or temple on the same side
- No blood clot in the socket and visible bone
- Bad-smelling breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
Since you just had a tooth extracted, you can expect some pain for a day or two, but if the pain becomes severe or worsens, especially if it radiates, it’s not normal. This intense pain may start immediately after the extraction, or it may develop within a few days. Call Dr. Kupferman as soon as you experience symptoms, so he can clean and protect the area.
How to prevent a dry socket
Dr. Kupferman, of course, gives you detailed aftercare instructions following an extraction, but it’s up to you to prevent dry socket from happening once you leave the office. Here are some tips:
- Never drink with a straw (extremely important) — it can dislodge the clot
- Drink plenty of clear — but not carbonated — liquids to stay hydrated and help healing
- Don’t use tobacco products — they can dislodge the clot and impair healing
- Refrain from hard foods for a few days; stick with things like broth, Jell-O, and applesauce
- Rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water a couple times a day
- Brush your teeth, but steer clear of the extraction site to prevent dislodging the clot
- Limit vigorous exercise; increased blood pressure may increase bleeding
If you’re having problems with a tooth and think it may need to be extracted, Riverdale Dental Arts is where you want to come for fast, effective, and comprehensive care. Give our office a call at 845-479-6927 or book online with us today.