Wisdom Teeth Dry Socket: Treatment, Causes, Prevention
Certainly, everybody wants his last or third molars, to become a valuable asset to his mouth as their arrival traditionally symbolizes a person’s maturity and wisdom. Even though we generally develop our wisdom teeth between the ages of 16 and 24 years, unfortunately, nearly 25-35% of the world population will never develop them, due to a hereditary pattern, and even more of us are bound to face some kind of the third molar impactions.
What’s more, the impacted wisdom teeth, which fail to cut through the gum or just partially erupt, have to be removed during special dental surgery. Various complications can occur, starting from the very common and minor bleeding of the gums, and ending with more rare, but therefore dangerous, side-effect called a wisdom tooth dry socket.
But, it can be successfully treated, when discovered early, or even prevented, when a patient carefully follows the dental care experts’ recommendations.
Why Does A Dry Socket Develop after the Removal of a Wisdom Tooth?
To understand why the a dry socket forms, let’s take a close look at the extraction surgery procedure of the third molars, and the consequent healing process.
During the procedure, an oral surgeon cuts a tiny incision on the patient’s gum to pull out the impacted wisdom tooth and part of its supporting jaw bone. At the end of the surgery, he sews up his patient’s gum with self-dissolving cosmetic stitches.
The surgery is followed by the healing process, which follows the plan described below if no complications occur, such as a dry socket.
To start with, if there are no complications seen after the extraction surgery, blood normally starts to flow in small amounts out of the wound. Soon thereafter, the blood starts clotting. And this is and absolutely natural process which provide protection to the oral cavity and for the regeneration on the surface for the gum’s tissues.
After several months, the jaw bone starts growing again under the gum line. As it fully regenerates, the recovery from the extraction surgery of the third molars is successfully completed.
However, in about 3- 4% of all surgical extractions of teeth, dental care experts state that a patient develops ostesis, or simply put, a dry socket. There are two possible causes for the development of this side effect. The first one is an inadequate formation of a blood clot formation in the gum wound or the total failure.
Secondly, the complication that develops is widely associated with the accidental physical dislodging of the blood clot by the patient during one of healing stages. In either case, the gums regeneration process is considerably hindered due to the fact that they simply have no supportive surface.
What Symptoms Are Particular to the Development of a Dry Socket?
The first type dry socket generally develops on the third day of the healing.
However, if its formation is caused by the physical dislodging of the blood clot, the symptoms might only present themselves during the later recovery stage, developing more intensely and rapidly.
The dry socket is linked to an acute oral cavity inflammatory process, which is associated with the underlying wisdom tooth’s supportive jaw bone being exposed to air and foods, and this results in a sharp pain in the gum and jaw.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Dry Socket?
Usually, the pain associated with a dry socket goes away in a couple of days, and it takes the several weeks for the wound to heal with no special medications required. However, you can use some of the following home remedies and / or commercial medications to relieve the pain and inflammation.
For instance, the clove oil gum applications are an effective home remedy for a dry socket as it considerably lowers the inflammation and brings instant pain relief. In addition, you can rinse your mouth with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda or salt solutions to prevent the infection from entering the wound, and to reduce the inflammation.
Even applying an ice or a cold compress where you feel pain helps. However, this should only be done in the first 48 hours.
You can either fill a sandwich bag with ice cubes or wrap some ice cubes in a clean towel and apply it to the painful region.
Place the ice pack over the painful area on and off for 20 minutes. However, remove the bag if you don’t feel any relief, and instead feel like the bag is burning or damaging your skin.
You can start using a warm compress after two days as a cold compress does not help at reducing any inflammation or swelling after 48 hours of the pain starting.
Keeping yourself hydrated helps in the healing process. So drink more clear liquids, preferably water at room temperature, not only after the removal of your wisdom teeth, but also after any surgical procedure. Similarly, do not drink any alcohol after surgery as alcohol dehydrates your body and slows down the healing process.
While taking drinks at room temperature is the best option to remain hydrated, some people don’t like the idea of drinking too much water. If this is the case, you may also drink some sugar-free sports drinks to remain hydrated.
If home remedies do not give the desired relief, you can use non-steroidal (!) anti-inflammatory medications or mild pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen. If the pain from the becomes intolerable, immediately contact your dental care professional!
What Can I Do to Prevent A Dry Socket?
Unfortunately, no one can provide you with a guaranteed method of preventing the development of a dry socket, as the cause of true failure of the formation of a blood clot still remains unknown.
However, you can prevent it being dislodged by avoiding smoking, spitting, wound sucking, using straws, drinking alcoholic or carbonated beverages, and closely following the dental care experts’ recommendations.
Dentists also recommend not smoking for at least a day after the extraction. Also, do not rinse your mouth for 24 hours as this also helps in the formation of a good clot.
Eat only soft foods, especially in the first 24 hours after surgery. You can switch to semi-soft foods once you notice your wounds are healing.
It is better if you avoid eating anything crunchy, spicy, hard or chewy as there is a chance of the food ending up in the socket, and triggering an infection or irritation.
The development of a dry socket after the extraction of a wisdom tooth is considerably rare, but a dangerous complication that can occur from the surgical extraction of third molar. This is why it so important to be very careful during the healing period and follow all the recommendations your dental care professional provides you with.