After a tooth extraction, some individuals may experience a dry socket. This condition typically arises within three day after an extraction when blood falls out of the socket. Without the blood clot, the bone is exposed and can cause a great deal of pain.

There are a number of lifestyle choices that can increase a patient’s risk for dry sockets. For instance, patients who smoke are at a higher risk for dry sockets. The sucking motion can force the clot from the wound. In addition, cigarettes feature toxins that can prevent or delay the healing process.

Women who use birth control pills that are high in estrogen may also be at an increased risk for developing dry sockets because the hormones may affect their body’s ability to clot. Also, patients who spit frequently or eat hard foods may be at an increased risk of dry socket. Those who use a straw may also be prone to dry sockets.

Patients who have developed dry sockets in the past may get them again. Therefore, they should inform their dentist of their medical history so that the appropriate measures can be taken to prevent them from recurring.

There are a number of symptoms that may indicate a patient has dry socket. These symptoms include a socket that appears empty, a visible bone, bad breath, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, and swollen lymph nodes. This condition is typically easy to spot.

Fortunately, only about two to five percent of patients who have undergone a tooth extraction usually develop dry socket. Patients who believe they may have one are encouraged to contact their dentist right away. A dentist may flush out the socket to remove debris and apply dressings to protect the area. Medications may also be prescribed to control the pain.

Often, dry sockets lead to pain that radiates up and down the face and pain upon breathing in cold wear or even simply drinking a glass of cold water. The blood clot must be kept in the socket until the bone has been able to fill it and heal. Without the blood clot, healing can be prolonged and cause significant pain.

Some of our patients have asked us whether stitches or sutures cause dry sockets. The truth is they do not. In fact, they are intended to prevent them. If you have stitches or sutures in and still developed a dry socket, your clot may have dissolved, making it important for you to return to the dentist.

In addition to stitches or sutures, you can prevent dry sockets by quitting smoking if you smoke. You can also drink plenty of clear liquids to keep yourself hydrated, be cautious when eating or drinking, refrain from carbonated beverages, and rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water. It’s also a good idea to rest after your tooth extraction and avoid playing sports, exercising, or engaging in other activities that could disturb your mouth.

Contact Costa Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

If you have questions related to how to prevent dry sockets, we encourage you to contact our office. Call us today at 703-439-1214.