How Can I Prevent It From Happening to Me?
There are very few people who would actually be happy about the idea of having to get a tooth removed, but even with the best dental care, and personal oral hygiene, the procedure does sometimes become necessary. It's a scary thought for most people, but these days it's a relatively painless procedure that is over quickly and far less traumatic than years ago.
However skilled your dentist, there is a complication that patients should be aware can sometimes crop up after a tooth extraction; dry socket. Also known as alveolar osteitis the pain caused by this condition can be as bad as, or even worse, than any pain a patient experienced prior to the tooth extraction. The good news is however that it is perfectly preventable.
What is Dry Socket?
When a tooth is extracted the 'hole' left behind is referred to as the socket. Usually, immediately after an extraction a blood clot begins to form that effectively seals the hole and allows the whole area to begin to heal. Dry socket occurs when this clot is dislodged too soon, exposing the delicate nerve to the elements, which can be extremely painful.
Should this occur, a trip back to the dentist as quickly as possible is a must. They can carefully clean the area and then pack it with a sterile gauze to protect it. This can sometimes slow healing times though, so doing all you can to ensure the protective clot remains in place to do its job is the ideal.
Preventing Dry Socket
Occasionally a protective blood clot will dislodge on its own and there is really very little that could have been to predict or prevent it. In most cases though there was a preventable cause. Smoking significantly increases the risk that dry socket will occur, as does drinking from a straw.
For women who take birth control pills there can also be an increased risk of dry socket occurring, as higher doses of estrogen can prevent normal blood clotting. For this reason a patient on birth control should discuss scheduling their procedure, if at all possible, for a day when their pill will be delivering the lowest dose of the hormone into their bloodstream. A handful of other medications may also cause similar problems, so make sure your dentist is aware of any and all medications you take prior to a tooth extraction.
Finally, you will be given specific aftercare instructions after any tooth extraction procedure and they really do need to be followed to the letter for the best possible outcome. This includes calling your dentist right away if you suspect something has gone awry.
Emergency Dentist Sydney Says:
Fortunately, dry socket only becomes a problem in 2-5% of the patients who undergo a tooth extraction. With the right care and knowledge, as well as a little vigilance, you are far less likely to become one of them.