- Dental Health

Alveolar Osteitis or Dry Socket


Hardly anyone suffers much after a routine tooth extraction. Unfortunately, it is not that way for everyone.

A small percentage of dental patients – about 2% to 5% – experience an increase in discomfort after a tooth extraction and after a few days, the pain becomes more intense. That small percentage of patients has developed a condition called Alveolar Osteitis or Dry Socket. Even though Dry Socket can be extremely uncomfortable, it can be treated very easily. Treatment is uncomplicated and should be covered under the terms of your dental insurance plan.

A dry socket – what is it?

By taking out a tooth the dentist leaves a hole. This is called the socket. Under normal circumstances, a small blood clot will develop protecting the bone and nerves underneath from infection and irritation caused by air, drink and food debris. If, for any reason, the blood clot is dislodged, the open nerve and bone are liable to become infected.

A blood clot can fail to form or be prematurely dislodged for several reasons. A common cause is poor oral hygiene, but it’s not the only one. Rinsing the mouth too often or too vigorously can dislodge the blood clot, as can drinking through a straw. The reason for this is that the act of sucking creates negative pressure in the mouth.

Dry Socket is likely to affect those whose blood cannot clot properly. Your dentist can only take the appropriate remedial action if you tell him what medications you are taking.

People who are more prone to Dry Socket after a tooth extraction include:

  • People that smoke.
  • Those with poor oral hygiene.
  • Those who use birth control pills.
  • People that have a history of Dry Socket.
  • Those who drink through a straw after extraction.
  • Those who rinse and spit excessively after extraction.

How can Dry Socket be treated?

It is possible to relieve the pain with Ibuprofen, aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. A nerve block may be prescribed by your doctor if these medications don’t work.

Easing the pain with medications will not necessarily remove any infections. The dentist will need to cleanse the socket and fill with a dental gauze and paste to promote the healing process. The dentist may prescribe antibiotics to ward off further infection and the dressing will need replacing often. Two weeks may be needed for the healing process to be complete.

Your dentist will not proceed with a dental implant until the socket has completely healed. If you are in a high-risk group for Dry Socket, you should definitely compare dental insurance providers to find a level of cover that will suit you and your mouth.

How to prevent Dry Socket.

  • Avoid using nicotine products a few days before your dental appointment.
  • Those on birth control pills should make their appointment when receiving the lowest dose of oestrogen.
  • Check with your dentist about medications you may be taking that reduce blood clotting.
  • Don’t use a straw when drinking.
  • Don’t be too vigorous when rinsing your mouth and rinse only as often as your dentist recommends.

Dry socket, although painful when you have it, is treatable and more importantly, preventable. Follow a daily oral hygiene regimen and your dentist’s instructions and you will prevent Dry Socket. More information about common problems such as dry socket can be found by visiting a good dental health insurance website.


Source by Stephanie Andrew

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