Dry socket of wisdom teeth (Infection Pain & Treatment)

Getting your wisdom tooth extracted or for that matter, getting any kind of tooth extraction will probably result in some discomfort during the healing process. If you are indeed getting a tooth extraction soon, it’s good to learn more about after surgery complications that will cause you more pain. Well then, have you ever heard of dry socket (also known as alveolar osteitis)?

What is Dry Socket?

It is a potential complication that you can face after any kind of tooth extraction but more particularly wisdom tooth extractions.

Normally after the tooth extraction, a blood clot will form to aid recovery. In certain circumstances, the blood clot does not form or is dislodged before the wound is fully healed. The exposure of underlying bones and nerves then causes intense and throbbing pain to the patient. This condition can occur from anywhere between 1-3 days after the surgery and last for 5-7 days until the wound is fully healed.

Dry Socket Symptoms

If you just had your tooth extracted and is experiencing abnormal amounts of pain.  Here are some symptoms that can arise a few days after a tooth extraction that can help you identify if you have dry socket :

  • Intense, throbbing pain in jaw
  • Spreading of pain to other facial areas
  • Absence of dark blood clot at site of extraction
  • Dry-looking empty socket; whitish bone
  • Bad breath
  • Unpleasant smell and taste in your mouth
  • Presence of pus in your mouth

Should your pain increase significantly and you start to develop a fever or experience nausea and vomiting, please seek help from your dentist immediately.

Dry Socket Treatment

Your dentist can prescribe over-the-counter painkillers (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) to help relieve your pain as well as antibiotics to prevent the infection of the socket. Additionally, your dentist can help to clean the tooth socket by removing any food residual or debris and apply medication to the area to facilitate healing. In this case, you would probably be required to make repeated visits to your dentist’s office for a change of dressing until the wound is healed or when the pain lessens.

Should you feel that the pain is bearable and are looking for home remedies instead, you can rinse gently with salt water or special mouthwash to prevent infection by making sure that the wound is clean.

*Note that you should only rinse when necessary and should not rinse regularly as this increases the chance of the dislodging of the blood clot which causes dry socket. 

How common is Dry Socket?

While this is not a very common condition with studies reporting that only about 2% of patients developing dry socket after a tooth extraction (V Mudali, 2016) , the study finds that there are certain instances which increases your risk of getting it.

If you have to fall in any of these categories, you are at higher risk of developing dry socket and should take more caution during your recovery process.

  • Went for a wisdom tooth extraction
  • Smokes
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Use birth control pills
  • Have a history of developing dry socket after a tooth extraction
  • Rinse and spit a lot after tooth extraction
  • Drink from a straw after tooth extraction

Prevention of Dry Socket

Previously, we talked about certain factors that could increase your chances of getting a dry socket. Therefore, here are some behaviours you should be adopting to minimize your risk of developing it.

  • Keep gauze over the extraction site for 30-45 minutes after the surgery
  • Abstain from smoking and using any other tobacco products
  • Check with your doctor if you can stop birth control pills or at least tell your dentist that you are on them
  • Avoid rinsing and spitting after tooth extraction
  • Avoid alcohol and using mouthwash containing alcohol
  • Avoid drinking from a straw
  • Avoid drinking beverages of extreme temperatures or acidity (such as fizzy drinks and coffee)
  • Consume only soft foods and chew using the opposite side of the tooth extraction

More Equipped to Deal with Dry Socket

Now that you have gained more knowledge about developing a dry socket, you are more equipped for your next tooth extraction.

Here at Vivid Dental Surgeons, we aim to educate our patients on matters regarding oral hygiene and health. Especially amidst this COVID-19 period, we encourage everyone to stay safe and maintain good oral hygiene. Let’s all do our part in keeping the community and ourselves healthy. 

If you liked this article, you can click here to read our article about wisdom tooth extractions or click here other oral health related articles posted on our blog.  Additionally, if you have any questions regarding dry sockets or other oral health related matters, feel free to drop Dr Ryan a message here.  Dr Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wishes everyone a pleasant and virus-free day ahead!


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