Not all teeth can be preserved and sometimes a bad tooth has to be removed to make way for some improvements like dentures, bridges, or implants. Whatever the reason, you might have been puzzled to hear your dentist mention the term "dry socket" in relation to the extraction. Knowing about a dry socket could alert you to the need to return to the dentist for more assistance. To find out more about this issue, read below.
Dry Sockets: A Brief Explanation
When a tooth (particularly a molar) is removed, more than just the highly visible upper portion goes away. Teeth take up space below your gum line along with the root material. That means a tooth extraction can leave a pit or hole in your gum. That hole is known as a socket. As the tooth is removed, the socket may be filled with blood that eventually dries and clots. In the best-case scenario, the clot remains in place long enough for the bleeding to stop. If anything disturbs the clot and it gets loose, it may disappear and with it goes the protection it afforded. Wisdom teeth and bottom teeth are more likely to be affected by a dry socket.
When You Experience a Dry Socket
Your dentist may have advised you to expect some pain and discomfort at the sight of the extraction. A dry socket, however, brings not just pain but very bad pain — almost excruciating in scope. You will need to seek help right away if you notice any of the following problems after an extraction:
- You feel sudden pain after a day or so of little to no pain.
- You can feel the blood clot with your tongue and it's loose or no longer in place.
- You have a bad taste in your mouth all of a sudden.
- You are running a fever and your lymph nodes are swollen and tender.
- You are experiencing pain not only near the extraction site but also in your ear, jaw, eye area, or all over your face.
How Dry Socket Issues Are Treated
Call your dentist immediately so they can stop or prevent an infection. The dentist will likely gently cleanse the area and then pack the socket with gauze. In most cases, the dressing will need to be carefully removed and changed every day. You may be prescribed antibiotics orally.
While this dental malady can be easily treated, untreated it could cause a life-threatening infection. Speak to your dentist to find out more about dental extractions and what to expect from them.