Dry Socket Can Follow a Tooth Extraction

When your dentist removes a tooth, the first part of healing which occurs is the clot of blood which covers the exposed bone and gum tissue which was once surrounded by the extracted tooth.  This protective covering protects the exposed tissues until the body’s healing process can close this opening where the tooth had been.

Sometimes, this clot never forms or is somehow dislodged following the extraction procedure.

Which Patients Are Most Likely to Get a Dry Socket?

While everyone who has higher risk won’t necessarily develop this complication, it is most common in patients who have or do the following:

Smokers —  The nicotine in the tobacco they smoke or chew restricts blood vessels, including those which send the blood to the extraction site.  Sometimes the clot simply never forms or only partially forms in a smoker’s  tooth socket.

Users of Straws —  People who use straws and thus must create suction within the mouth to drink.  This same action is present in those who smoke too, when they take a “drag” from their cigarette.  While not the same, excess rinsing and spitting can dislodge the healing blood clot within the socket too.

Bacterial Disease —  A patient whose tooth was removed due to serious bacterial gum disease is at risk of the bacteria present in their mouths actually preventing the formation of the clot.

Physiological Problems — Sometimes, just they way we are built or our body’s genetics can make us more likely to have a dry socket.  People with dense jawbones which prevent adequate blood clotting may get a dry socket.  Poor blood supply due to circulatory problems, as well as a woman’s cyclical hormonal fluctuations are potential causes for a dry socket to develop too.  Aging in general can also contribute to a dry socket.

Can a Dry Socket Condition Be Prevented?

The answer is simply, not in every case.  However, making sure your dentist is aware of the medications you are currently taking, and carefully following your dentist’s instructions following a tooth extraction can remove much of the risk.

Follow these rules and any others Dr. Gehrig may give you to help prevent a dry socket:

1.  Tell Dr. Gehrig about your medicines as many interfere with blood clotting.

2.  No smoking before or after your dental surgery.

3.  Avoid spitting and the use of straws, or any other sucking action of the mouth.

4.  Eat soft foods, but avoid those which might lodge in the socket like nuts, popcorn, or pasta.

5.  Don’t touch the site with your hands or anything else.

6.  Use warm, salted water to rinse GENTLY to keep the area clean.  No vigorous rinsing.

The Good News About the Dry Socket Complication

The silver lining is that 5% or fewer people who have a tooth removed by a dentist ever develop a Dry Socket.  If you follow your dentist’s instructions for post operative care, and you make sure he knows the medications you are taking and any other health information which might affect your outcome, your chances of developing a dry socket are minimal.

By chance, should you develop a dry socket after following all of the prescribed advice, contact your dentist immediately.  He or she can provide you with a treatment regimen which will keep you comfortable as your mouth heals, even though more slowly than it would have without the dry socket.

Tagged with:

Filed under: Surgical Dentistry

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!