Dry socket is a painful condition which occurs as a complication after a tooth extraction. After an extraction, the natural process of wound healing starts with the formation of a blood clot in the socket. This clot initiates healing and wound closure, and protects the bone and nerves located beneath it. In some cases, this blood clot may dissolve or get dislodged, or may not even form. Without the protective blood clot, the underlying nerves and bones get exposed, thereby causing severe soreness, pain, and discomfort. This condition is called dry socket or alveolar osteitis, which may develop within two to five days from the date of tooth extraction. With proper treatment, the healing time can be around a week to ten days.
Dry socket is a self-limiting condition, and the treatment offered is palliative in nature. Since it is one of the most painful dental conditions, the person is often given treatment to alleviate the symptoms on an emergency basis. The socket is cleaned, irrigated, and sterilized. After this, it is packed with a medicated dressing that contains sedatives and natural soothing agents, such as eugenol and clove oil. The dressing has to be retained and replaced at regular intervals, till the socket heals and the symptoms subside.
Analgesics may be prescribed so as to relieve the pain. Usually, dry socket healing period is about seven to ten days. There are various factors that influence the healing time. They include the medical condition of the patient, presence of systemic diseases, oral hygiene, etc. For complete closure of an open socket, the person may have to wait for a month or so. Usually, a dry socket delays tooth extraction recovery. However, the pain should slowly subside within ten days, after which the healing occurs at a faster rate, once the tissue covers the bone.
How to Reduce Healing Time
There are some simple pointers that have to be followed, so as to prevent and heal a dry socket. Given below are some of these guidelines.
- If you have a dry socket, visit a dentist immediately, so that it can be treated at the earliest.
- Once you get your tooth extracted, avoid smoking for at least two days. You should not chew tobacco for at least a week. Tobacco delays the healing process and may cause complications like dry socket.
- Do not use straw for drinking liquids, after an extraction. This is because when a person drinks with a straw, the sucking action may cause dislodgement of the clot.
- It is also advisable to avoid drinking alcoholic, caffeinated, and carbonated beverages for a few days after an extraction. Even hot beverages have to be avoided.
- You should not have hard, hot, or chewy foods after a tooth extraction. Soft foods are preferred for the first day, after which you can start semisolids.
- The dentist will place a pack on the extraction site. It has to be retained for an hour. You must not try to remove this pack before time.
- After the surgery, rest for the whole day. Avoid strenuous physical activities for a few days.
- It is advisable to avoid spitting for a few days after extraction. This is because the clot may get dislodged due to spitting. Avoid aggressive brushing too.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.