Pain after Tooth Extraction? Could be a Dry Tooth Socket

Discomfort or pain after tooth extraction may or may not be normal. Tooth extraction is the most traumatic dental procedure and the wound in the extraction site needs time and care to properly heal. Without proper care, a few days after extraction dry tooth socket may start. Tooth socket is where the tooth used to live.

A Dry tooth socket is a painful post-operative complication that is likely to occur two or more days after an adult tooth is extracted. Dry-socket can be a sequel to even normal extractions. It happens when the extraction socket fails to form or maintain its blood clot. If you think you have a dry socket you need to return to your dentist for further treatments.

Dry socket pain can usually strike at some moment between the first and the third day after your dental extraction. So, if it’s been two or more days since you’ve had your tooth removed and the pain is increasing, chances are that a dry socket has developed. Increasing pain in the extraction site or in the ear at the same side of extraction is a usual sign of a dry socket.

Signs of a dry tooth socket include:

  • Intense pain a few days after extraction
  • Bad taste
  • Slight fever
  • Unpleasant odour from the socket
  • Pain extending to ear on the same side of extraction

If a dry socket is suspected, you need to notify your dentist and request an emergency dental appointment. Use of pain killers would not be a sufficient solution for dry sockets. The best thing you can do is to seek follow-up from your dentist or any other emergency dentist near you for urgent dental care. The treatment of the dry socket aims to relieve the patient’s pain during the now delayed healing process of the wound in the extraction site. Treatment is usually accomplished by irrigation of the socket by the dentist and application of suitable dressing to the tooth socket.

How Patients Describe Dry Socket Pain

Classical dry socket patients complain that they had had toothache.  So they had their dentist to extract their tooth and now the toothache has not disappeared but in fact is now worse than before extraction. Dry socket patients often describe an initial painless period followed by an intense pain typically followed by a foul odour 3, 4 days after the tooth extraction. Dry socket can sometimes lead to swelling near the extraction site or in the lymph glands close to extraction site.

tooth extraction

After extraction, when the bleeding stops, formation of the blood clot inside the socket is the first step of a normal healing process. In the normal healing process, the blood clot starts to organise into new tissue. Dry socket can happen when the blood clot in the wound:

  • Has not properly formed
  • Has prematurely dissolved
  • Has been washed away

Pain from a dry-socket can range from minimal pain through to intense and prolonged pain. When dry socket is developed, a severe pain can persist over a period of days. Self-medication or over-medication can worsen the dry socket problem and prolong its treatment. Dry socket treatment should be carried out by a dentist. A equipped dentist can relieve you from pain and promote healing of the dry-socket.

Dry Sockets Have a Low Chance of Occurrence

However, the likelihood of developing a dry socket is higher if you:

  • Smoke after extraction
  • Use birth control pills
  • Had a lower wisdom tooth extraction
  • Don’t take a good care of the wound in the healing period

To Prevent a Dry Socket, Take Care of the Post-Extraction Clot

An extracted tooth leaves a hole in the bone. This hole is called a socket. Ideally the extracted tooth socket is covered by a blood clot. The clot seals the hole and protects the bones and the nerves until the wound is healed and the hole is closed. If for some reason the clot leaves the hole prematurely, a “dry tooth socket” is formed. With a dry socket the bone and the nerves are exposed to air, food, saliva and bacteria. This exposure to external elements can cause discomfort and pain and is known as a dry socket pain.

Treatment of Dry Socket

Dry socket is not treated as an infection. Dry socket is a delayed healing process and the dentist tries to hasten the healing process. Treatment of a dry-socket includes protecting the nerve endings at the bottom of the socket by packings. Treatment consists of irrigation and insertion of a medicated socket dressing. The dentist may also use sedative dressing to ease the patient’s pain. The patient probably would require move visits to the dentists for a periodic dressing change. You dentist may need an X-ray to rule out the possibility of a bone infection.

Dry Socket Prevention

Dry tooth socket prevention requires attention from both the dentist and the patient. To manage the risk of dry socket development after tooth extraction, dentists usually provide patients with post-op instructions. These instructions outline patient behaviours to avoid for protection of the blot clot in the socket. Healing is hastened when the patients carefully follow post-op instructions. Dentists can help prevent dry tooth socket by following best surgery practices, including:

  • Minimising bone removal and traumas
  • Constant bone irrigation at cutting phase of the tooth extraction
  • Careful irrigation and debridement prior to suturing

To prevent and minimise development of a dry socket, patients should be provided with a post-extraction instruction by their dentists.

About the AuthorDr Ellie Nadian

Dr. Ellie Nadian from Pure Dentistry is an emergency dentist in Brisbane Southside. Tel: 0733434869, address: 11/1932-1974 Logan Rd, Upper Mt Gravatt, QLD 4122


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