Impacted wisdom tooth removal can prevent infection and save you from a lot of pain, but it also creates a small risk of dry socket. Here is an explanation of dry socket, the steps you can take to prevent it, and how your dentist will treat it.
What is Dry Socket?
Dry socket is a condition that occurs in about five percent of patients who have one or more wisdom teeth removed. Normally, a blood clot forms in the dental socket where the removed tooth used to be. Dry socket can develop if the blood clot never forms or if the clot becomes dislodged.
Without a blood clot to protect the socket, the nerves in the gums will remain exposed to air and the bacteria in your mouth. This can cause considerable pain in the gums that may radiate to the surrounding tissues in the jaw and neck. Bad breath, fever, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth are other symptoms that sometimes accompany the condition.
Preventing Dry Socket
Dry socket is more likely to occur if you do not follow your dentist's instructions for caring for the dental socket after your tooth has been removed. You can minimize your risk of dry socket if you avoid touching the socket and take anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed by your dentist.
Even if you are being careful not to irritate the extraction area, some normal behaviors can increase the risk of dry socket. Try to avoid drinking through straws, as the suction this creates may be enough to remove the clot. You should also abstain from using tobacco products, as they will slow the healing process and create a longer window of possibility for dry socket to occur.
Dry Socket Treatment
The first step to getting treatment for dry socket is knowing when to call your dentist. Pain from tooth removal will typically subside within a day or two after the procedure. If instead you notice a marked increase in pain around this time, it is likely that the socket is not clotting properly, and you need to see your dentist for dry socket.
When you see your dentist for dry socket treatment, the first thing he will do is flush the socket and fill it with a medicated dressing. To prevent infection and manage pain, the dentist will usually prescribe antibiotics and pain medication. You should also expect several return appointments to change the medicated dressing until the problem is resolved.
Dry socket may sound like a scary consequence of tooth removal, but it is easy to treat and occurs in very few cases. The minimal risk of dry socket is well worth the relief from pain and infection that an impacted tooth can cause. Follow your dentist's instructions carefully after tooth extraction to enjoy a significant increase in your dental health without dry socket complications. For more information, contact a business such as Paul Dona DDS.