I work at a dental office. Here is what we tell our patients after an extraction:
The socket is the hole in the bone where the tooth has been removed. After a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Sometimes that clot can become dislodged or dissolve a couple of days after the extraction. That leaves the bone and nerve exposed to air, food, fluid, and anything else that enters the mouth. This can lead to infection and severe pain that can last for five or six days.
Some people may be more likely to get dry socket after having a tooth pulled. That includes people who:
have poor oral hygiene
have wisdom teeth pulled
have greater than usual trauma during the tooth extraction surgery
use birth control pills
have a history of dry socket after having teeth pulled
Rinsing and spitting or drinking through a straw after having a tooth extracted also can increase your risk of getting dry socket.
The pain typically starts about two days after the tooth was pulled. Over time it becomes more severe and can radiate to your ear.
You can take a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen to ease the discomfort. Sometimes these over-the-counter medications aren't enough to relieve the pain. When that's the case, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication or give you a nerve block.
Your dentist will clean the tooth socket, removing any debris from the hole, and then fill the socket with a medicated piece of gauze or a special paste to promote healing. The gauze will stay in place for only several hours. By then you will have received any benefits from the medication. You'll probably have to come back to the dentist's office every day for a dressing change until the socket starts to heal and your pain lessens.
Sometimes we DO prescribe antibiotics to prevent the socket from becoming infected. To care for the dry socket at home, you may rinse with salt water or a special mouthwash, if you were prescibed one, every day.
Again...DO NOT SPIT. Let the water run out of your mouth.
Sometimes healing can take as long as 2 weeks.
Nearly all of our patients report that ibuprofen worked the best to control the pain.
Also...we NEVER recommend using hydrogen peroxide to rinse with. It kills the "good" germs that promote healing.
Edited by lil spot at 12/14/2009 5:49 PM PST
Last edited on 12/14/2009