Wisdom Teeth: What are dry sockets?

When discussing the potential complications of wisdom teeth extraction, an oral surgeon will often include dry sockets in the list.

A dry socket is a painful condition that can develop following a tooth extraction. Although dry sockets can occur with any permanent tooth extraction, they are most commonly associated with the wisdom teeth.

During the process of healing from the wisdom teeth removal, the patient should develop blood clots that protect the bone and nerves underneath the extraction site.

Those blood clots should stay in place until the patient has healed sufficiently. If they are dislodged or dissolve prematurely, they’ll expose the underlying nerves to the oral cavity, causing a great deal of discomfort.

Most patients will not develop dry sockets, but when the condition does arise, the symptoms typically begin around two days after the extraction. Patients may also be able to see the bone exposed by the clot’s absence, or they may notice a foul odor coming from the mouth.

Fortunately, patients can take steps to reduce their risk of developing dry sockets. Patients should avoid drinking through straws until the surgical site has healed. Smokers should abstain from the habit immediately following wisdom tooth extraction, too.

Other unavoidable factors may also increase the likelihood of dry sockets, such as especially complex extractions, the use of oral contraceptives or a previous history of dry sockets.

When patients do develop symptoms that may indicate dry sockets, they should return to their oral surgeon as soon as possible. The oral surgeon can confirm the presence of dry sockets and move forward with treatment.

In treating dry sockets, the oral surgeon may use a number of approaches, such as using special dressings, flushing out the socket or recommending prescription-strength painkillers when over-the-counter medications are ineffective.

Prior to your wisdom teeth extraction, your oral surgeon will give you detailed instructions for self-care after the procedure. Most patients will be able to prevent dry sockets by following those recommendations closely.

If you have questions regarding wisdom tooth removal in Charlottesville VA, contact the office of Dr. Carlos Rafael Ibañez today.

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