Dry Socket Symptoms & Prevention

April 13, 2016
Dry Socket Symptoms and Prevention

A painful condition that can lead to infection, dry socket or alveolar osteitis can occur following a permanent adult tooth extraction. To reduce your chances of developing this relatively common dental problem, learn how to identify dry socket symptoms and potential risk factors.
Recognizing the Signs
Normally, an extraction site fills with a blood clot, which provides a foundation for new bone growth, while protecting underlying bone and nerve endings from irritation. Sometimes, however, this clot can become dislodged or prematurely dissolved, resulting in dry socket symptoms, such as:

  • Severe pain two to four days after an extraction
  • Empty hole at the extraction site
  • Visible bone within the socket
  • Pain that radiates to the neck, temple, ear, eye or side of the face
  • Foul breath
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Low fever

Potential Causes
A number of issues can increase the likelihood of dry socket. These include:

  • Bacterial contamination within he socket
  • Tissue or bone trauma resulting from a challenging extraction
  • Small bone or root fragments left within the wound after surgery

Certain risk factors also increase the chances of dry socket. These include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Improper at-home care
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Tooth or gum infection
  • Having dry socket in the past
  • Use of corticosteroids

When to Seek Treatment
A certain amount of pain is expected after a tooth extraction; however, this should decline after a day or two. If you notice increasing pain days after surgery, contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately. You can also help prevent dry socket by avoiding the most common risk factors.

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