Dry socket is a painful complication that can occur following the extraction of a permanent tooth. The healing of the tooth socket does not progress as it normally should, and symptoms usually start appearing a couple of days after the extraction.
Symptoms of Dry Socket
This condition can lead to symptoms including acute pain, a bad odor in the mouth, and a foul taste in the mouth.
Causes of Dry Socket
While the causes of dry socket vary, it is usually associated with a difficult extraction. This means that some amount of bone or other surrounding tissues were possibly removed during the extraction. Again, this does not necessarily need to have happened, however a dry socket occurs more likely if this has been done. In a dry socket, the blood clot in the socket didn't form like it should have. This blood clot, which is essential for the normal healing of the socket, eventually starts to necrose and degenerate which causes the characteristic foul smell.
Treatment of Dry Socket
The treatment for such a situation depends on the severity of the problem. If there is a large amount of pain involved, you may need to visit your dentist on a couple of occasions to get a sedative dressing.
This same dressing will be applied in case you do not have a lot of pain -- only it will be changed less often. Before placing the dressing, the dentist will usually clean the socket where the extraction took place with saline or a purple-colored liquid which contains the antiseptic Povidone iodine. This is to make sure that all the necrosed blood and other debris are removed from the site, facilitating healing.
The dentist may also physically induce some fresh bleeding at the extraction site so that a new, uninfected clot can form. This will be followed by the placement of a soothing dressing in the mouth.
Following this line of treatment, your complaint of bad odor and foul taste should subside dramatically although complete resolution of the problem will probably require a couple of visits to the dentist where the same procedure will be followed. Sometimes the socket can get reinfected and this can require a course of antibiotics as well to allow the healing to take place.
Dry socket is a relatively common complication. In fact, the instructions to rinse your mouth with warm salt water are now considered old-fashioned as this can cause a dislodgement of the blood clot itself.
Present-day post extraction advice includes specific instructions to not spit or rinse your mouth for at least 48 hours and preferably longer.
Treating dry socket does not require any invasive treatment or any time consuming appointments, however it is necessary that you get proper treatment in a timely manner to prevent further complications.
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