After getting your wisdom teeth removed, you may notice that there’s something wrong with the socket that used to hold one of your teeth. This problem is called dry socket, and it’s more common than you might think, affecting about half of all people who get their wisdom teeth removed in the United States alone. The good news is that it’s usually very treatable with medication or over-the-counter pain relief, but before you try any treatment, you should know what signs of dry socket to look out for.
Signs of dry socket
It’s normal for your mouth to be a little sore after a tooth extraction, but if you have signs of dry socket, you should contact your dentist immediately. While it’s rare, dry socket can occur after almost any dental procedure that requires anesthesia. If left untreated, it can cause pain, swelling and infection. Common symptoms include: sharp or dull pain in one or more areas around your affected tooth; sensitivity in those areas; open pockets; red or dark areas around or under your affected tooth; a metallic taste in your mouth; yellowish saliva or sputum (phlegm); foul odor in your mouth; fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to treat a dry socket
When you lose a tooth, your body has to replace it. The process can take several months; during that time, you have a cavity in your jawbone that’s exposed to food and bacteria in your mouth. The result is usually an infected, painful tooth socket called a dry socket. To avoid or treat a dry socket: Â» Rinse after brushing – don’t just spit. The extra movement will help wash away loose debris around your gums, reducing the risk of infection. Â» Take pain relievers – ibuprofen is fine for short-term use. If you need something stronger, ask your dentist about prescription medications. Â» See a dentist right away if you experience severe pain or swelling. You may need antibiotics or other treatment to get rid of any infection before it becomes worse. If left untreated, a dry socket could cause long-term damage and make it more difficult for your body to repair itself after losing teeth in future.
When should you seek professional help?
While you can try to deal with a dry socket on your own, it’s advisable that you seek professional help if your symptoms don’t subside within three days. With that said, you may want to consider consulting a dentist as soon as possible even if your symptoms disappear relatively quickly because there may be an underlying condition that requires immediate attention. If signs of dry socket are making eating or drinking extremely painful for you, for example, you should contact a dentist or emergency medical professional. If your pain worsens despite using these remedies several times a day for a few days in a row, see your dentist. A dental emergency doesn’t necessarily mean that something is damaged; but if left untreated, there could be complications down the road.
As unpleasant as a dry socket can be, there are ways to make your recovery go more smoothly. One way is to use a warm saltwater rinse after brushing your teeth. Salt water helps promote healing in a broken tooth by bringing fluids from nearby tissues into your mouth. A home remedy for dry socket is also massage! Massaging can help encourage blood flow back into the area around your tooth. If you’re really having trouble getting over that yucky taste in your mouth, try chewing on some strong-flavored foods like coffee beans or chocolate until it goes away.
Do not ignore it
Although dry socket typically heals on its own, it can lead to infection, jawbone death, or loss of your tooth if left untreated. Seek medical attention if you experience pain or sensitivity around a recently extracted tooth. Oral rinses with local anesthetic may provide some relief for a short time; however, dry socket is best treated by seeking immediate medical help. If you begin feeling symptoms that indicate dry socket is occurring after a dental procedure, contact our team at (818) 881-5876 today to schedule an appointment. Our staff will work with you on scheduling an appointment with one of our surgeons at West Hills Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery that fits into your busy schedule as soon as possible.