Dry Socket or Alveolar osteitis

The dreaded word “tooth extraction” is not something you want to hear from your dentist’s mouth when you go in a for a checkup. But sometimes, as we all know very well, life is not fair and you end up with a tooth that has no alternative other than to be taken out. Immediately after a tooth extraction, the healing begins by forming a blood clot in the tooth socket which is critical for the process. A number of factors can contribute to the clot being dislodged. The clot once removed from the socket exposes the bone and delays healing. The exposed bone is a site for bacteria and food in the oral cavity to seep in and can result in an infection. This infection is referred to as Dry Socket.

Some of the symptoms of dry socket include excruciating pain that can radiate to your ear and is completely different from the general soreness that you experience after extraction. The pain usually starts 2-3 days post extraction. If you happen to look in the mirror, you will see that there is whitish material (exposed bone) instead of the typical blood clot seen in the healing socket. Sometimes, it can also result in bad breath or unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Now comes the million dollar question of how to prevent and treat dry socket?

There are a couple of post procedure precautions that a patient needs to take after the extraction of a tooth. The most important ones are not to smoke, not to drink from a straw, and avoid spitting or rinsing hard. The reason being that any one of these actions can result in the blood clot being dislodged from the tooth socket. Another important thing is to maintain good oral hygiene so that food debris does not collect in the socket. Sometimes, the dry socket just happens and cannot be helped especially after complicated or traumatic surgical extractions like in the case of wisdom teeth (third molars).

Treatment includes an immediate visit to your dentist, who would probably prescribe a pain killer like ibuprofen or something stronger depending upon the pain intensity. Also he can clean the socket gently with some saline water and place a topical medicine called dry socket paste. It basically contains a soothing material called Eugenol (an extract of clove oil) that would help lessen the pain and facilitate healing of the socket. The socket might need to packed every few days until the socket is fully healed.

At Smile Studio, we prescribe the use of “Sockit Gel” along with all of our extractions. Sockit gel is an all natural product that you insert into the socket several times a day until full healing occurs. The gel keeps the extraction socket moisturized and prevents the occurrence of dry socket tremendously.