Did you recently get your wisdom teeth removed and are now experiencing the thrills of toothache? While everyone knows this can be an uncomfortable experience, if you’re going through unusually severe pain, you could have a case of dry socket.
This unfriendly condition might be to blame for some of the discomforts you’re experiencing, but it is nothing to worry about. Treating dry socket isn’t too complicated. And with these tips, you’ll be able to heal quickly!
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What is a Dry Socket?
Before we discuss how to treat a dry socket, we have to know what it is.
A dry socket can happen after a tooth extraction if a blood clot forms and dislodges before the wound fully heals. When this happens, it leaves your bone and nerve exposed to anything that enters your mouth.
Talk about painful!
The main symptom of a dry socket is pain at the extraction site. However, a dry socket is really uncommon. Only about 2-5% of people experience it after tooth extractions.
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Symptoms and Causes
If you read the last paragraph and panicked at the thought of your upcoming tooth extraction, don’t be nervous! Even if you did get it (which is unlikely) treating dry socket isn’t too hard.
In fact, you’ll find there are a few options you can easily try at home.
The exact cause of dry socket is still a reason for debate among researchers. However, the likeliest cause is bacterial infections at the site, whether from food or liquid.
Another likely cause is trauma at the site. This could mean complications during the extraction or something as simple as hitting the area with your toothbrush.
There are some personal factors that can make you more prone to dry sockets, such as:
- Smoking: The chemicals in cigarettes can prevent healing and even contaminate the site.
- Taking birth control pills: increased estrogen levels may slow down the recovery around the area.
- Poor dental hygiene: Pretty self-explanatory; take care of your teeth and gums if you want the best outcome!
Whatever the cause may be, you can reduce the risk of dry socket after wisdom tooth removal if you know what it is, what its symptoms are, and how to treat it from home.
If you’re unsure how to diagnose dry socket, the most significant indicator is throbbing, severe pain at the site. The pain that comes with dry socket usually doesn’t go away with over-the-counter medicine.
You may also experience pain symptoms that extends to your:
- Temple, and/or
You might also experience it when you drink something cold. Aside from the pain, you may also have an unpleasant taste and odor in your mouth, and you might be able to see the bone in the socket.
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Treating Dry Socket
The primary way to treat dry socket is by taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen. Avoid taking aspirin, as this will increase the bleeding around the area.
However, if after a couple of days, the pain hasn’t gone away or is getting worse, you should contact your dentist right away.
If you find yourself at your dentist’s office again, they will clean the area. This will help alleviate the pain and prevent the risk of infection. Your dentist will likely prescribe you either a saltwater rinse, but they may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent the area from being infected.
If left untreated, dry socket can delay healing of the area, but they can also lead to infection. If you have symptoms such as fever, redness, and discharge at the site, then the area is likely infected.
Treating Dry Socket at Home
You might be wondering if you can treat dry socket at home, and the answer is yes!
There are a few home remedies you can try. Some of these might even be prescribed by your doctor, especially if you’re part of a high-risk group (smoker, taking birth control pills, etc.)
Since one of the causes of dry socket is a bacterial infection from food particles, the best remedies will often act as antibacterial agents. Still, these will also help reduce the swelling.
1. Warm Salt Water
Your dentist will likely prescribe this along with pain medications. Saltwater will help eliminate bacteria and will reduce the risk of infections. We recommend mixing ½ teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of water. You should swish this around your mouth several times a day.
2. Black Tea Bags
Black tea bags will reduce swelling and pain, but they’re also good antibacterial agents for the area. If you want to try this option, you’ll start with boiling a teabag. After the water boils, take out the teabag and squeeze any excess water.
Cool the teabag in your refrigerator for a few minutes. Once it’s cool, you can use it as a cold compress on the area.
Honey will act as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic for your case of dry socket but is also linked to preventing infection.
To use honey, simply pour some on a clean gauze, and apply it to the affected area. You can leave it for a few minutes or leave it for a few hours. If you do the latter, be sure to change the gauze every couple of hours.