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How to treat a dry socket

A dry socket is one of the most common complications of a tooth extraction. If you’ve had a tooth removed lately and are suffering from symptoms of a dry socket, you shouldn’t ignore the situation.[1]

In this blog post, we look at how dry sockets can be treated and we discuss how you can prevent this problem from occurring again in the future.

Will dry socket heal on its own?

Fortunately, most of the time a dry socket will heal on its own before things get worse. However, this temporary condition can be very painful and this pain may not resolve without care and attention. In fact, you may find that the pain gets more intense over time if you don’t take the appropriate action.

The right treatment can help a dry socket to heal and can help you to avoid more serious complications, such as infection of the socket or bone infection.[1]

How to heal dry socket

If you think you may have developed a dry socket following a tooth extraction, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist. They will probably want to flush out the socket to ensure it’s free from trapped food and other debris. They may also pack the socket with a medicated gel or paste and cover it with an antiseptic dressing to promote healing and prevent infection.

While you wait to see your dentist or for your dry socket to get better, there are several things you can do to help ease your dental discomfort and ensure the healing process continues as it should.

Firstly, you’ll probably need to take pain relief medication. Ibuprofen or paracetamol can help you to manage the pain. Ibuprofen, in particular, is good for dental pain as it can help to reduce inflammation. A DenTek First Aid Kit can also come in very useful at times like these. This emergency kit contains eugenol, which can be used to soothe and disinfect a dry socket. A hot or cold compress may also help to ease the pain and reduce swelling.

Keeping the area clean is also crucial. As well as maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and using interdental products, it’s important to rinse your mouth with warm salt water a minimum of four times a day. You should also try to drink plenty of clear fluids to keep your mouth clean.

In addition, we also recommend that you avoid smoking and the use of tobacco products. It’s also sensible to follow a soft food diet while you wait for the area to heal.[1]

How to avoid dry socket

When you have a tooth extracted, it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions in order to keep the area healthy and prevent a dry socket from developing.

You will usually be advised to take painkillers to reduce swelling and relieve discomfort. You may also be advised to use an antibacterial mouthwash or rinse your mouth with salt water while the area is healing. However, it’s important to wait for 24 hours to pass before doing this as you could risk dislodging the blood clot that should be forming.

You might also be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection. It’s important that you take these as instructed.

While your mouth is still numb, you should also stick to cold food and drinks, and you shouldn’t rush to eat hard, crunchy or hot foods until you’re more comfortable.

It’s important to continue to clean your teeth regularly with a manual or electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Dentek interdental brushes can also be used to reach the 40% of your teeth that toothbrushing can miss. While you’re healing from a tooth extraction, you should be careful to be gentle and avoid the affected area while cleaning your mouth.

Finally, in the aftermath of tooth removal surgery, you should avoid alcohol and smoking for as long as possible – but for at least 24 hours.[1]

In many cases, it is possible to avoid tooth extraction altogether by attending dental checkups on a regular basis to identify problems early, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and not smoking can also help you to maintain good dental health.[2]

In some cases, root canal may be recommended as an alternative to tooth extraction. You should discuss your treatment options with your dentist before having a tooth removed.

Resources:

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/wisdom-tooth-removal/complications/

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-teeth-and-gums/how-to-keep-your-teeth-clean/

Neil Kotak
10/5/2023
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