Dental Care

Dry Socket Treatment - Options and Relief

Dry socket treatment, also known as treatment for alveolar osteitis, is sometimes needed when a specific complication occurs after a tooth extraction.

It happens when you lose the blood clot that formed in the place where your tooth was pulled.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which you can control and others you cannot. But it’s likely that your jawbone and nerve endings are just lying there, exposed to the air and to everything you put in your mouth.

We have already discussed factors that make you more susceptible to developing this painful condition. You will also find information on all the symptoms that people typically experience relative to a dry socket.

Now we’ll talk about dry socket treatment, what you can actually do in order to treat it successfully.

If you’re reading this prior to your extraction, you’ll be glad to learn that dry socket occurs in only about 5% of all extractions. The chances are great that you will have your tooth pulled and move through a speedy, uneventful recovery.

If, however, you are already experiencing painful symptoms, the first thing to know is that there is really no “cure” for dry socket.

All you can do is seek dry socket treatment that is palliative and supportive -that is, treatment that will simply make you feel better until the condition passes. Dry socket generally must run its course.

Nothing you can do will speed it up. What has happened is that the socket where your tooth once was has been disrupted in the midst of the healing process. Now you have to wait for your body to replace the healing tissues that were lost and move toward recovery.

If your first instinct is to reach for a bottle of pain reliever tablets, hold on! They really won’t help much at first. The pain of dry socket has been characterized as intense and throbbing.

Don’t waste time or make yourself feel worse by taking so many acetaminophen or ibuprofen that you make yourself sicker.

Instead, your most immediate action should be to call your dentist. Don’t waste time debating whether to call, and don’t dwell on guilt if you’ve been careless about caring for your mouth. Your dentist knows that dry socket develops unpredictably.

Once you’re sitting in his chair, what will he do? He can examine the dry socket and confirm it, and then he will rinse out the empty socket. This is a very important step to turning down the pain level, because debris quickly accumulates in the socket—as it does in any space within your mouth—and you need to have it removed. Whether it’s germ-laden saliva or bits of food, it will help immensely when your dentist cleans out the socket.

Next, he will pack it with gauze that’s treated either with eugenol or with a topical anesthetic fluid such as benzocaine. Eugenol is an oily substance extracted from cloves and other spices, and it has a soothing, numbing quality to the exposed nerves. It’s not as strong and is more suitable for use than plain oil of cloves. As bad as your socket hurts, expect relief within the hour -some say within minutes- of your dentist packing it.

Expect to return to the dentist’s office again to have it repacked within 24-48 hours. You’ll need to do this for up to a week in order to keep the pain under control while your body regains control of the healing process.

Use care to maintain the packing in place between dental office visits. Ask your dentist for advice on keeping the dressing in place. Much of your success will depend, of course, on your ability to follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions and avoid foods and beverages as he advises.

Once you’ve been to the dentist and had the socket rinsed out and dressed, your therapy with an anti-inflammatory non-steroidal pain medication such as ibuprofen will be much more successful. Buy some extra-strength tablets and take them as often as directed. They will help not only with your pain but also with reduction of inflammation in your gum tissues.

Dry Socket Treatment - Further Down The Road

Some people complain of persistent or sudden flair-ups of pain even after the first week has passed. You can continue to call your dentist, or check with your local pharmacist for home treatment remedies that contain eugenol.

We don’t advise you to do this, however, unless your dentist has checked your socket and rinsed it thoroughly. The last thing you want is a bone infection that skyrockets out of control!

Just give it patience, and keep your dentist informed of your dry socket treatment and recovery progress.


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