A dry socket is a painful condition that you may experience after having a tooth extracted. Normally when a tooth is extracted a blood clot forms over the area, the clot protects the nerves and bone in the empty tooth socket. The blood clot plays an important role in the healing process by protecting the empty socket. The condition called dry socket occurs if the blood clot fails to form over the tooth socket, or if the clot that does form either dissolves or is somehow dislodged, leaving the socket exposed to food, fluids and other debris. Because of the significant potential for contamination of the wound, a person with a dry socket has a substantial likelihood of developing an infection accompanied by severe pain that could last as long as five or six days.
Only a small percentage of patients develop a dry socket after having a tooth extracted. Although, some people are more likely than others to develop a dry socket after a tooth extraction. For example, people who smoke, have poor oral hygiene, use birth control pills, or have previously experienced dry socket following a tooth extraction.
After having a tooth extracted we would all expect to endure some discomfort or pain. However, if your pain is moderate at the beginning but after a few days becomes more serve instead of beginning to dissipate, you're probably experiencing dry socket symptoms. If you were to look where the tooth was extracted, you would probably see a dry-looking, empty socket instead of seeing a healthy-looking blood clot.
Other potential dry socket symptoms are swollen, enlarged lymph nodes in the jaw or neck. Enlarged lymph nodes are simply part of your body responding and attempting to fight off the infection caused by the dry socket.
Straight after your tooth is extracted, your dentist will probably suggest that you bite down firmly on a piece of gauze. Putting pressure on the gauze normally facilitates the formation of a blood clot over the empty tooth socket. Your dentist will then advise you to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol, spitting and rinsing your mouth vigorously and also drinking through a straw as these can contribute to the risk of forming a dry socket.
Ian, the Mosman dentist. Dentist Mosman.