What is a Dry SocketDry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis, is a common complication after a tooth extraction. The dental term ‘alveolar osteitis’ refers to the inflammation of the alveolar bone following the extraction of a tooth, resulting in severe pain.
Dry socket is actually a dental condition where the natural post-surgery healing process is delayed, characterized by symptoms such as exposure of the jaw bone and severe pain at the site of the extraction that begins about two days following the extraction and tends to worsen over time.
Problems of dry socket occur rarely, affecting only about 1 to 5% of all tooth extractions, but in certain types of extractions can be much higher. The occurence rate of dry socket symptoms after wisdom teeth extraction, especially those of lower impacted wisdom teeth, may reach 15% or more.
Dry Socket Symptoms
The pattern that dry socket symptoms appear is common, with the discomfort decreasing for the first two days after the tooth extraction when, at about the third day the discomfort starts to become progressively more intense.
The most common and disturbing of the dry socket symptoms is the intense pain. The dry socket pain is usually very intense, constant and sometimes throbbing. It cannot generally be relieved by over-the-counter painkillers. Pain may be localized to the empty tooth socket area or it may radiate up to the patient’s ear or eye, depending on the jaw of the extraction.
How long does dry socket lastThe dry socket tooth pain starts about three days after the tooth extraction, by the time the tooth socket without the protective blood clot has literally got ‘dry’. The condition will eventually heal by itself with time, but the patient has to withstand the symptoms for a prolonged period of time until full dry socket healing. It might take a couple of weeks before the dry socket symptoms and pain are gone. The pain is usually very intense. Unfortunately in some cases the dry socket pain may last for over a month. Dry socket may last longer than usual in young patients that fail to follow the dentist's instructions.
There are some early signs that might warn the patient for the upcoming problem, even before the pain or other dry socket symptoms appear.
what does a dry socket look likeVisual examination of the tooth extraction area will reveal that :
there is partial or total loss of the blood clot from the tooth socket
the tooth socket appears empty and dry
the jaw bone is visible in the tooth socket
Other symptoms of dry socket may include:
Unpleasant taste in the mouth
Swollen lymph glands around the jaw or neck
Temporomandibular joint disorder related symptoms like jaw pain, ear pain etc.
The characteristic of the dry socket symptoms is that they appear some days after the tooth has been removed, and not immediately after the procedure.