Dry socket is the most common problem of a tooth extraction, especially in the cases of wisdom teeth. After your tooth is pulled, a blood clot should form to provide a protective layer over the wound. This blood clot stops the bleeding and helps the wound heal. Dry socket is the result of this clot becoming dislodged, exposing the bone and nerves and delaying the healing process.
While it’s normal to have some discomfort and bleeding gums following a tooth extraction, you should start to feel better within a day or two. But if the blood clot doesn’t form or becomes dislodged, you may have increased pain one to three days following the surgery. This is often a sign of dry socket, which can also be determined by the following symptoms: You notice the socket looks empty or you can see the bone, severe pain, and or pain that radiates from your socket to your ear or eye on one side of your face, bad breath, a foul odor or unpleasant taste in your mouth, and a swollen lymph nodes.
To help prevent dry socket, your dentist will recommend post-operative guidelines such as: No smoking before or after the surgery, as tobacco may contaminate the wound site, be sure to tell your dentist about any medications you are taking, as they can interfere with blood clotting, following the surgery, refrain from spitting or using a straw, as the sucking action could dislodge the blood clot, while you should maintain your oral hygiene regimen, be careful when brushing in the area. Use gentle brushing on any teeth located near the wound, use a warm saltwater rinse to keep the area clean, but don’t rinse your mouth too vigorously, don’t touch the wound with your fingers or other objects, eat soft foods and avoid foods that could lodge in the wound, such as popcorn, peanuts or pasta.