There is cause and effect in dentistry. If your tooth must be extracted following an accident or simply because it is decayed beyond repair then there is nothing to be done but grit your teeth, gird up your loins, visit the dentist and endure the tooth extraction process. Surprisingly, the extraction itself may not be that painful considering that the dentist uses local anaesthetic. What follows could be more painful and that is the dry socket condition. Learn about dry sockets, why they cause pain after tooth extraction and what you can do to manage it.
What is dry socket and why it is so painful?
The usual process of tooth extraction is for the dentist to inject an anaesthetic and then use pliers to work the tooth loose and then pull it out. This leaves a cavity in the place where the tooth used to stand. The cavity has blood vessels and nerves. Once the tooth is extracted your dentist will apply some antibiotic and press a piece of gauze dressing in place. This helps to staunch the bleeding and clot forms. The clot stays in place until the wound heals. You feel a slight pain which can be mitigated with the help of analgesics. The clot covers the nerve and then tissue grows over it.
Sometimes, there is a departure from this normal healing process. The clot may not form or it may become dislodged exposing the nerves and bone creating a dry socket or alveolar osteitis. Bacterial infection may set in and, a couple of days later, you start to feel a throbbing pain that escalates. The jawbone becomes inflamed. Infection can cause bad breath. You eat or drink anything and you feel excruciating pain after tooth extraction because it touches the raw nerve end. Luckily, this condition occurs only in about 2% of the population. Still, it is good to know what is responsible and what you can do to manage the condition.
Possible causes for dry socket
A variety of conditions could cause the dry socket situation. Here are a few:
- The normal tooth extraction healing time is from 2 days to a week depending on patient’s health. However, pre-existing periodontal disease and pre-existing bacteria may prevent formation of the blood clot.
- Some people are extremely addicted to tobacco. They may chew tobacco or smoke. Nicotine reduces blood supply and a clot may not form properly or it may become loose.
- Infection after tooth extraction treatment is a likely cause. If you do not follow your dentist’s advice on oral hygiene then this is likely to occur.
- The tooth extraction treatment itself may contribute to pain after tooth extraction. It is likely to happen if the wisdom tooth is the one to be extracted. The chances increase when it is an impacted wisdom tooth that needs extraction.
- Brushing and other practices such as sucking through a straw or aggressive chewing can dislodge a clot.
- Hormonal imbalance is a likely cause.
Whatever the reason you will feel unbearable pain and that pain will not let you work, rest or sleep. You must manage it the best way you can and then get your dentist to work out a line of treatment. This is how you recognize dry socket pain after tooth extraction.
- The pain does not start immediately. However, wound should heal within the prescribed tooth extraction healing time and you should not feel pain. It does not do that. On the contrary, you start to feel a dull, throbbing, radiating pain that keeps increasing with each passing day. A visible examination shows that the jawbone is visible in the socket and the open tissues are gray instead of normal pink.
- Bad breath is another common sign that food particles have accumulated in the socket and the decay is responsible for the odour.
The early warning sign is pain that starts to increase after the second or third day then it is time to visit your dentist for treatment. In any case, your dentist will expect you to pay a visit within a week of the tooth extraction treatment. In the meanwhile you can take some action to manage the pain until your dentist handles it professionally.
Immediate steps to contain dry socket pain
- If you start feeling pain after tooth extraction at a time when the wound should actually heal then you may have a dry socket. Fix an appointment with your dentist for the earliest date. In the meanwhile, you can try these steps at home to manage pain.
- Apply cold compress to your jaw. It will help to mitigate pain.
- You may use tylenol or ibuprofen or a combination of the two to reduce feeling of pain.
- Prepare slightly warm water with a pinch of salt. Squish it around gently around your mouth to dislodge any debris from the socket. Debris exert pressure and cause pain.
- You may use local anaesthetic spray like Lidocaine to numb the pain. It will help you get through the night.
- Meanwhile eat only liquid or soft foods and avoid chewing on the side where the dry socket is.
- Should pain be hard to bear you can try over the counter pain medication.
- You may keep one clove in your mouth. The clove oil will work as antiseptic and analgesic.
These remedies should be considered as temporary. You should fix an appointment to visit your dentist the next day for immediate treatment. Your dentist will take special precautions to remove dead, decaying or infected tissue, clean the socket with a jet of water and antibiotic mix and then apply a dressing. The healing time is about 10 days if you are in good health and do not have diabetes. You may have to get the dressing changed each day to contain infection after tooth extraction treatment. With proper care and treatment by your dentist in roswell, you should be free of pain after complete healing takes place. We patients from Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Marietta, Milton, Sandy Springs, and Woodstock. If you stay in and around these areas, do drop by or contact us to schedule a visit.
That is the long-form of dry socket issues. Here is the short version in the form of a Q&A.
1.Will dry socket heal itself?
Unfortunately, no. The inside of your mouth is wet and a hotbed for bacteria to breed. It will get only worse if you ignore it and do not seek dental care in time.
2. How long does the dry socket last after tooth extraction?
In the case of a normal socket where a clot is in place, you will see tissue overgrowth happening in two days and, in a week, the wound is covered over. However, dry socket festers and promotes bacterial growth, preventing healthy tissue growth. It gets worse if you delay or ignore this condition.
3. What helps dry socket after tooth extraction?
If the blood clot that normally forms and stays in place after a tooth extraction is dislodged, it causes a dry socket. The clot can be dislodged if you brush that area, consume hot and cold foods, rub your tongue inside it, or chew tobacco. Eating hard foods is likely to be a causative factor.
4. How do I know if I have a dry socket or normal pain?
Normal pain after tooth extraction subsides progressively within a week. However, dry socket pain increases every day and becomes excruciatingly painful, especially if something touches the nerve endings. Pain will not subside and becomes unbearable. You may also notice bad breath. This is when you know it is a clear case of dry socket.
5. Is it obvious if you have a dry socket?
Excruciatingly unbearable pain that keeps increasing by the day and bad breath are two strong indicators of a dry socket. It will be painfully obvious to you.
6. When can I stop worrying about dry sockets?
Go to your dentist and let your dentist treat the dry socket. In 10 days, your pain should vanish, and that is when you can stop worrying about dry sockets. You need not have to worry if you are healthy and follow your dentist’s instructions after the tooth extraction procedure. Chances of dry socket developing are slim if you take care for two-three days after the extraction.
7. Does dry socket hurt instantly?
You will not feel a higher amount of pain the first two days after the extraction. However, if healing does not progress well and if the clot falls out, then you will start to feel a dull, throbbing, and radiating pain that keeps increasing to the point of becoming simply unbearable.
8. What happens if food gets stuck in an extraction site?
Food will decay once bacteria attack it, and this will cause inflammation and tissue damage. In addition, the pain will increase, and be stuck; decaying food particles will result in bad breath.