What is a Dry Socket?
A dry socket is a common complication that arises after the removal of a tooth and which is characterized by extremely sharp pain.
It occurs when the blood clot that normally forms in the hollow cavity following the tooth extraction for some reason gets dissolved, is removed, or simply fails to develop.
As a result, the bone and nerve are left exposed to (hot and cold) fluids, food, and air. Dry socket is medically known as alveolar osteitis.
How Do You Develop Dry Socket?
The blood clot that forms after the extraction of the tooth is vital for the protection of the nerves and bones lying underneath. Dissolving the blood clot due to any reason puts a stop to the normal healing process and may cause dry socket, or alveolar osteitis.
Cross-contamination, infection, soreness, bacteria, trauma, and too much estrogen may all dislodge the blood clot or prevent it from forming, leaving an exposed unfilled opening.
It is, therefore, best to reduce the risk of developing this condition by curtailing the factors that cause it, instead of trying to treat dry socket.
Nevertheless, if you have already developed the condition, fret not. It will get better with the right treatment and some home remedies to help speed up the healing process.
Symptoms of Dry Socket
The various signs and symptoms of a fully-fledged dry socket include:
- Excruciating pain 3-4 days after the tooth extraction;
- Exposed bones underneath gum tissue;
- A hollow socket at tooth extraction site;
- Partial or complete loss of the resulting blood clot;
- Radiating pain from the socket to the eye, ear, or neck on the same side of the face from where the tooth was extracted;
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth;
- Slight fever;
- Constant foul smell coming from the mouth;
- Swollen lymph nodes around the jaw and neck.
Who is More Prone to Dry socket?
Some people are at greater risk of developing the painful condition than others. These include:
- Patients with chronically poor oral health and hygiene;
- Patients experiencing extreme distress during the tooth extraction intervention;
- Patients with wisdom teeth removed;
- Female patients using oral contraceptives (they have a twofold risk of developing the condition);
- Patients with a (family) history of dry socket
Home Remedies for Dry Socket
1. Clove Oil
Clove oil has proved to be an effective treatment for dry socket. It can be applied directly onto the painful area with a cotton swab. To decrease the sting of the clove, first soak the cotton swab in water and then, dip it in clove oil.
Now, apply it to the problem area. You can also apply it to the neighboring aching teeth. Do it once or twice throughout a day.
2. Lukewarm Salt Water
Gently gargling with lukewarm water and salt also provides relief from the pain caused by a dry socket. Saline water kills off nasty bacteria, reduces swelling (aka inflammation), and gives some pain relief.
3. Plain Yogurt
Consume a lot of plain yogurt during the recovery period as it works as a natural antibiotic. Make sure that it doesn't contain any added sugars as those can only help bad bacteria multiply.
4. Ice Packs
To prevent the jaws from swelling, use ice packs close to the wound but not on it.
5. Cool Tea Bags
Use either chamomile or black tea for this home treatment for dry sockets.
Take a cool tea bag and gently press it with the help of your teeth against the painful region. The tannins in black tea and antioxidants in chamomile tea help soothe the pain, reduce the inflammation, and speed up the recovery process.
6. Turmeric Solution
Rinsing your mouth with a pinch of turmeric in lukewarm water can also provide pain relief.
7. Paste of Salt, Turmeric and Mustard Oil
A herbal paste made of turmeric, dry salt, and mustard oil can be applied directly to the affected area. This gives immense relief and is considered to be an excellent home remedy.
Use this paste up to three times per week for whiter and healthier teeth.
You can nibble a damp piece of gauze to prevent the dry socket's exposure to saliva, other liquids, and air, to help control the pain.
9. DIY Peroxide Solution
Rinse your mouth with a mix of food-grade hydrogen peroxide and water (3:1) to get an instant relief from the pain. Be careful not to swallow the solution as it may cause burns to your GI tract.
10. Valerian Root
Valerian root is considered to be one of the best natural tranquilizers. It relieves the patient from excessive pain, anxiety, and stress, caused by a less-than-ideal tooth extraction. It also speeds up the healing process.
11. Lemon and Salt
The mixture of salt and lemon juice (1 tsp) is a natural antiseptic so it prevents further infection in the problem area. Apply this solution to the gums. You may also drink fresh lemon juice.
Lemon is a rich source of Vitamin C that helps promote a quick recovery after such problem.
12. Remain Hydrated
Don't forget to drink plenty of liquids to keep yourself hydrated. It helps in preventing the giddiness and throbbing pain associated with a dry socket.
Dry Socket – Prevention
Certain measures should be taken to prevent dry sockets immediately after the tooth extraction. These include:
- Avoid smoking;
- Don't chew tobacco;
- Maintain oral hygiene to help heal faster;
- Do not touch the wound with your fingers and other non-sterile objects;
- Keep yourself well hydrated;
- Rest well;
- Don't drink beverages through straws – the added pressure may dislocate the blood clot in the extraction area;
- Eat soft foods;
- Don't forget to take the prescribed course of antibiotics;
- Sleep with your head elevated.
To Wrap It Up
Dry sockets often mean excruciating pain, so getting medical attention as soon as you notice that there's something wrong after a tooth extraction is critical.
Beside pain relievers and antibiotics, you can resort to home remedies as well to help keep pain and inflammation in check and speed up the healing process.
We wish you a quick recovery!
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Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.