Dental Care

Dry Socket Wisdom Teeth

What are dry socket wisdom teeth complications? There are some painful things that can happen to a person's mouth. 

One is the need for wisdom tooth extraction -something we dread, even though just about everybody goes through it. 

The second is the complication following extraction known as dry socket

This happens when the clot that forms immediately after extraction is lost, exposing the bone beneath the pulled tooth. 

But the worst thing is having a wisdom tooth extracted and then developing dry socket. 

People experience all kinds of difficulty when their wisdom teeth try to push through the gums. Because they are the very last teeth to come in, most problems stem from the simple lack of room within the length of a person's jaw. 

Often the wisdom tooth will only partially erupt through the gum.  Other times the tooth, crowded out of alignment, grows in sideways.  Many times it pushes through and causes other teeth to misalign. 

Why are dry socket wisdom teeth more prone to occur? 

There are several reasons:

  • Blood circulation is decreased in the back areas of the jaw line, which can interfere with the development and maintenance of a proper clot.
  • Wisdom teeth have more roots. The bigger the tooth, the more roots it has, and this means a bigger window for complications following extraction.
  • If wisdom teeth have erupted, they are often difficult to clean during normal brushing. Debris and plaque cause cavities and infection to grow. They can even grow up against the neighboring molar and cause decay on that tooth. And dry socket appears to be related to the amount of infection present at the time of the procedure.
  • Teeth that have not erupted require a more complicated removal procedure with a higher risk of infection. If wisdom teeth cannot erupt through the jawbone, they are identified as bony impactions. Those that make it out of the jaw but not through the gums are soft-tissue impactions.
  • Because more force is often required for removal of a wisdom tooth, the force might press your jawbone against the blood vessels in the area, sealing them off so that they cannot generate a sufficient clot.

All told, dentists and oral surgeons report a higher incidence of dry socket wisdom teeth in the extraction of lower teeth rather than upper. 

Women more than men experience it. Older patients are more prone to dry socket wisdom teeth complication than younger ones, so a dentist generally urges his patients to have wisdom teeth pulled before they reach their mid-twenties. 

It's also true that people who take poor care of their teeth are more prone to dry socket.  Their teeth and gums in general harbor greater amounts of bacteria and plaque, and if someone fails to brush the front teeth properly he or she certainly won't be doing a proper job of caring for the back ones. 

As mentioned above, infection present at the time of extraction means a greater chance of dry socket.  

Two other common complications are smoking and the use of oral contraceptives.  It's easy to see that tobacco products can contaminate a healing extraction site, and the sucking associated with cigarette smoking exacerbates the risk of dry socket. 

The connection between dry socket and oral contraceptives isn't so clear.  Oral contraceptives affect the body's estrogen level, and there also seems to be increased sensitivity to pain associated with their use. 

Your dentist is not going to attempt a wisdom tooth extraction if he feels the conditions are not optimal.  If he advises you to take a course of antibiotics before the extraction, be certain to take the medication.  Take the prescription until all of it is gone, even if it lasts beyond the extraction. 

Another precaution the dentist might suggest is the use of an antibacterial mouthwash like chlorhexidrine prior to extraction.  This ensures that the area is cleansed and well rinsed.  In some cases, the dentist will do a special cleaning around the wisdom tooth to remove extra plaque and debris. 

The incidence of dry socket wisdom teeth is slightly higher than normal tooth extractions, averaging between five and ten percent. 

The best treatment is to return to the dentist, who will clean out the socket and pack it with gauze soaked in a soothing anesthetic agent. Sometimes while the dentist is cleaning out the dry socket, he can cause a new clot to form. 

Note that not all members of the dental community ascribe to all precautions and treatments universally. 

You need to have a one-on-one talk with your dentist about the risks associated with dry socket wisdom teeth complication, and above all else you should follow his instructions specifically, both before and after the extraction. 


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