Dry socket is a dental condition that can occur when a wisdom tooth is extracted and the blood clot in the empty tooth socket becomes dislodged, exposes the underlying nerves and bone, and causes increasing pain. As a rule, it strikes within one to three days after extraction of the wisdom teeth. It is important to follow the guidelines set forth by your dentist in order to avoid dry socket.
Immediately Following Surgery
Immediately following this oral surgery, you should maintain a consistent bite on the gauze your dentist or oral surgeon placed at the site of the extraction to encourage clotting in the tooth socket. Once the local anesthesia wears off, which usually takes an hour or two, remove the gauze carefully. Relax for several hours, do not eat anything, avoid unnecessary conversation, and keep your lips moist with ointment or lip balm.
To minimize any discomfort you may feel, start taking the medication recommended by your doctor when you return home. For the next 24 hours, do not brush your teeth or rinse your mouth. This will also promote the clotting that you need in order to heal. Use ice packs as well, and place a soft cloth between the ice pack and your face to prevent skin irritation.
During this time, drink plenty of liquids without using a straw, and eat soft foods that you can easily chew and swallow, but avoid anything that would disturb the blood clot.
Dry Socket Symptoms
Additional symptoms and signs of dry socket often include the following:
- There is partial or complete loss of the blood clot in the tooth socket, which may appear to be empty
- Some bone may also be visible
- Your pain may radiate from the dry socket to your ear or eye on that side of your face
- The lymph nodes around the neck or jaw may become swollen
- A foul odor emanates from your mouth, and you are experiencing an unpleasant taste there as well
If there are any indications that dry socket has become a problem for you, be sure to consult your oral surgeon or dentist immediately, so that you can be properly diagnosed and given the treatment you need.
UO University Health Center
Dental – Extraction of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Dry Socket – Symptoms