What is a Dry Socket?

Wisdom teeth extractions can be an anxious and potentially painful procedure, especially if patients experience dry sockets, oralveolar osteitis, after the extraction. During a typical wisdom tooth extraction, the teeth are pulled, and a blood clot forms in the place of the former tooth. However, sometimes this clot can become dislodged or dissolve, leaving an empty and dry socket where the tooth used to be. This can present significant pain, as the underlying jawbone and nerves can become exposed to the elements of your mouth.

Dry sockets typically only occur in roughly 2-5% of patients, although the percentage increases in the treatment of mandibular third molars to around 25-30%. Risk factors that increase the chance of dry sockets include smoking, poor hygiene, and birth control medication. Rinsing your mouth too frequently or using a straw after an extraction can also increase the risk. While only a small percentage of the treatment population experiences dry sockets, we still try to avoid them and treat them as soon as possible when they do occur.

In order to treat a dry socket, we normally prescribe NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin in order to ease the pain. Following that, we’ll clean the socket, remove any debris, and dress the socket, using a paste to promote healing. In some cases, patients may need to come back regularly to receive a new dressing. It’s also helpful to rinse with salt water or special mouthwashes to encourage cleansing and healing.

If you have any lingering questions about wisdom teeth extractions, or if you would like to schedule a dental exam, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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Patient's Dental Dictionary | 6th Ave Periodontics