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Fairhope AL Dentist Dry Socket

Cosmetic Dentistry in Spanish Fort, AL

After tooth extraction, a blood clot naturally forms on the empty tooth socket to protect the exposed tissues, nerves, and jawbone and also to facilitate the healing process. However, there are cases where the blood clot is not properly formed or dislodged from the tooth socket, it can cause what is known as a dry socket.

Dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis or fibrinolytic alveolitis, is the most common complication of tooth extraction and causes pain or infection which usually lasts and is felt from 3 to 4 days after the tooth has been removed. This dental problem is characterized by severe pain and delayed healing time to recover. People suffering from dental dry sockets also have an increased danger of infection and can also determine the treatment required to replace the extracted tooth.

Alveolar osteitis or fibrinolytic alveolitis is the hole in the bone where a tooth has been removed, exposing the nerves, tissues, and bone to air, food, fluid, and anything that enters the mouth. This can result in severe pain and infection that can last for days. The following individuals are prone to suffer alveolar osteitis after their tooth has been extracted:


individuals whose wisdom teeth have been removed
individuals who use oral contraceptives
people who do not follow good oral hygiene
people who experienced severe tooth extraction/surgery trauma
people with tooth or gum infection
smokers/tobacco users
those who have experienced dry sockets in the past
those who use corticosteroids


Signs and symptoms

It is enough for your Fairhope Al Dentist or oral surgeon to suspect a dry socket after severe pain following tooth extraction. You will be asked about other symptoms and he or she will examine your mouth to check if you have an exposed bone or a blood clot in your tooth socket. An X-ray might also be done on your teeth and mouth to determine the severity and exclude other conditions.

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Signs and symptoms may include the following:


An empty tooth socket that is partially or completely devoid of a blood clot
Bad taste in the mouth
Exposed bone which is very painful and sensitive to touch
Foul smell coming from the mouth
Inflamed tissues surrounding the empty socket
Moderate to severe throbbing pain in the socket that can spread to your neck, eyes, and ears within a few days after the tooth has been removed
Slight fever
Swollen lymph nodes



Dry sockets can happen in about 3-5% of tooth extractions and are most common after extraction of impacted wisdom teeth. There is no accurate explanation as to what causes dry sockets, but several factors may be included such as:


Age of patient – older patients are more at risk of dry sockets than younger ones
An active infection in the gum and high bacterial count in the area of the extracted tooth due to poor oral hygiene
History of experiencing dry sockets
Location of the tooth
Patient’s health condition
Poor compliance with the dentist’s post-op instructions regarding clot formation and blood clot protection
Severe tissue and bone trauma after a difficult tooth extraction
Smoking and/or using tobacco after a tooth extraction
Tiny root or bone fragments left in the wound after extraction
Too much alcohol intake
Use of oral contraceptives – estrogen can trigger fibrinolysis activity that leads to the disintegration of a blood clot



Treatment and drugs for dry sockets are mainly intended to reduce the pain and other symptoms but they won’t speed up the healing. Diagnosing a dry socket correctly is important so as not to confuse it with other dental pains like root canal issues. As soon as treatment has been done, relief will come in as little as 5 minutes, while other symptoms will go away in the next few days. Total healing usually takes from 10-14 days. Several dry socket treatments include:

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Applying medicated dressings
Flushing out the socket to remove any food particles or other debris in it that might add to the pain or infection
Taking pain relievers
Self-care wherein you will be given instructions on how to continue treating dry sockets at home
Putting cold packs outside your face where there is pain to decrease the swelling and pain
Not smoking and avoiding any tobacco products
Keeping hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of liquids
Using warm salt water to gently rinse your mouth several times throughout the day
Gently brush the teeth around the dry socket area
Taking pain relievers as prescribed by your dentist
Sticking to scheduled appointments with your Fairhope Al Dentist for changing of dressings or other dental care procedures
Making a dental appointment as soon as the pain returns or worsens before the scheduled appointment



Several things can be done to reduce the possibility of a dry socket after a tooth extraction. Your Fairhope Al Dentist will give you instructions to ensure the proper healing and prevention of dry sockets. These guidelines may include:


Use warm salt water, antibacterial mouthwashes, rinse, or gels to keep the area clean
Antibiotics especially if you have a poor immune system
Applying antiseptic solutions to the wound
Applications of medicated dressings after surgery
Avoiding rigorous activities
Taking the recommended medications
Avoiding caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and carbonated, and hot beverages for 1-2 days
No smoking before and after surgery to avoid contamination
Avoiding drinking through a straw or spitting to prevent dislodging the blood clot
Eat only soft foods
Take care when brushing around the area of the dry socket
Tell your Fairhope Al Dentist about any other medications you are taking to know if they are interfering with blood clotting


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Every dentist is aware that there is always a chance that their patient will have a dry socket after a tooth extraction so don’t hesitate to ask them for help if you think you are suffering from one. They must extend assistance in providing any follow-up dental care needed to lessen the complications of dry sockets and improve your dental health.

Even though dry sockets are recognized as early as the late 1800s, medical scientists are still looking for a surefire way to prevent it other than with medications like antibiotics before and after surgery. This issue remains debatable and others argue that using antibiotics for treatment may trigger other problems, especially health issues that concern antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

On the lighter side, knowing the signs and symptoms that can lead to dry socket is important and if you find that you are among the 3-5% that might have it, contact your  Fairhope Al Dentist immediately and take all the necessary action needed to help in the prevention or treatment of it. Your dentist might have to flush out the socket to clean it of any particles and apply the necessary medicated dressings to protect the socket. He or she can also prescribe several medications to help reduce or alleviate the pain and swelling. However, your dentist can give you instructions on how to care for it at home and all will be well if you follow his or her self-care advice.

Your Fairhope Al Dentist is the best person to advise if you have a dry socket and can also give the best treatment to care for it.