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Dry Socket

A possible complication of tooth extraction is called a “dry socket” – when there is not enough bleeding to form a clot in the socket. You will want to follow your dentist’s advice after the extraction as this is designed to prevent dry socket or other problems.

In the rare case this does develop, contact your dentist as soon as possible for treatment.

The actual dental term for a dry socket is an osteitis of the socket, which in actuality an infection of the bone in the socket. Another description of dry socket is known as a septic socket. The lower molars are affected more often than other teeth.

Symptoms of a dry socket can be terribly painful and even though the pain feels like a toothache, it is much more severe.  It usually starts two to four days after the extraction.

There are several reasons a dry socket may happen.  First keep in mind that healing cannot take place without the formation of a blood clot. Sometimes after an extraction, there isn’t sufficient bleeding to allow the clot to build up.  Rinsing too soon could dislodge the clot or prevent it from correctly forming.

If a patient is on a blood thinning medication, it may break down the blood, leaving the bone in the socket unprotected by exposure. Make sure you notify your dentist if you are on this type of medication.  Following a difficult extraction or the extraction of an abscessed tooth, an infection could occur.

Your dentist will be able to treat this condition. A paste that contains an antiseptic (or antibiotic), along with an analgesic (pain killer) will be placed into the socket. Your dentist may also prescribe an analgesic or antibiotic, separately from packing your tooth with the same type of treatment. Until the pain has stopped and the healing is under way, this treatment may need to be repeated.

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