What’s the Deal with Dry Socket?

dry socket When you have a painful, troublesome tooth, one of the frequently-suggested treatment options is extraction by an oral surgeon. Following the extraction, you might expect some discomfort, stinging or headaches. However, if the pain is just too much after a few days of recovery, it may be a sign of lingering dry socket.

You may have been warned numerous times about preventing dry socket, but knowing what it’s called isn’t necessarily the same as knowing when something’s wrong. Read on to learn how to recognize the symptoms of dry socket and how to treat it.

What Is Dry Socket?

According to a study conducted at the Al-Quds University Dental Teaching Center, dry socket only affected 3.2 percent of their study participants following an extraction.1 However, dry socket can prove quite painful and disruptive to the healing process, so it’s important patients are vigilant during recovery.

Following a tooth extraction, the remaining pit, or socket, where the tooth used to be is vulnerable to bacteria, temperature changes and further damage. Your body creates a blood clot inside the socket to protect the bone and nerves from bacterial infection and pain and to promote healing. Occasionally, though, the blood clot becomes dislodged, dissolves or never forms at all. This is the condition known as dry socket.

How Do I Know I Have Dry Socket?

Dry socket is most commonly characterized by intense pain that may affect your extraction site, jaw or ear. Depending on the extent of your extraction, though, it can be hard to determine if the pain you feel is a symptom of dry socket or is just a side effect of the surgery.

If you notice severe pain, take a look at the socket to determine if you still have a blood clot. You’ll know there is no clot if:

  • The socket looks dry
  • There is no dark red clot
  • You see glimpses of white or yellowish bone

If you notice your breath smells and you have an unpleasant taste in your mouth, you may have dry socket.

How Do I Get Rid of Dry Socket?

Dry socket requires a medical professional’s attention as soon as possible to prevent infection and further discomfort.

Despite the intense pain associated with dry socket, it’s actually quite treatable. Patients can use over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve pain and headaches. If these aren’t strong enough, your doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger pain reliever.

Your dentist will clean the socket and fill it with a medicated paste or dressing to act as a pseudo-clot and promote healing. The dressing will need to be changed every few days, so expect to return to your doctor’s office frequently. Dentists and surgeons may also prescribe antibiotics for extra assurance that your socket won’t become infected.

At home, be sure to rinse your mouth daily with salt water or a dentist-recommended mouthwash. Abide by your practitioner’s eat, drink and care rules. These may include:

  • No alcohol, caffeinated drinks or hot beverages. Water only.
  • Don’t drink with a straw.
  • Eat soft foods like yogurt and applesauce.
  • No chewing on the socket side of your mouth.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Rinse and brush your teeth very gently.
  • Avoid very hot or very cold foods or beverages.

Enjoy a Beautiful Smile with Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates

Proper care after a tooth extraction can help ensure you’re recovered and back on your feet as soon as possible. The sooner you heal, the sooner you can actually enjoy your beautiful smile.

At Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, we specialize in dental implants and tooth extraction and realignment. Our friendly, experienced professionals will assess your smile, help you determine your dental goals and plan the most effective treatment options for your situation. If you’re ready to transform your smile, contact us online or call 502-459-8012 to schedule your consultation today!

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3089956/

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How Bruxism Affects Dental Implants

How Bruxism Effects Dental ImplantsBruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding, gnashing or clenching unrelated to normal oral function. There are two types: sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. The underlying cause of this condition remains unknown, but contributing factors include:

  • Anxiety, stress and anger
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Young age
  • Tobacco, drug and alcohol use
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Certain medications

In cases of sleep bruxism, the patient grinds their teeth at night. It is not uncommon for the tooth grinder to be totally unaware of their habit until they have already suffered tooth damage or jaw pain, or until their partner alerts them of loud noises that may originate from the grinding.

By contrast, someone is likely aware they have awake bruxism, but they may not notice their tendency day-to-day. Like nail biting, foot tapping or hair twisting, bruxism can be a response to emotional triggers. It is often difficult to redirect that energy or quit cold turkey.

The Effects of Bruxism

The good news is that many people experience some form of bruxism, so if you also grind your teeth, you are not alone. However, the severity of bruxism makes a huge difference in the level of dental damage incurred. Effects can range from mild to severe. If you’re unsure, these are some signs that you may have issues with teeth grinding, gnashing or clenching:

  • Chipping, flattening or loosening of teeth
  • Exposure of the inner layers of your teeth
  • Jaw pain, tightness or locking
  • Unexplained headaches and earaches
  • Inner cheek irritation
  • Waking yourself up in the middle of the night

Getting Dental Implants with Bruxism

Another unwanted side effect of bruxism is damage to dental implants. While most people with bruxism can safely receive implants, uncontrolled bruxism can cause complications in the implant process. There are several reasons for this:

  1. People with bruxism have increased jaw strength and biting force
  2. Bruxism results in more frequent tooth-on-tooth contact, sometimes for several hours a day compared to the normal nine minutes of chewing1
  3. Teeth grinding is a side-to-side movement, rather than the typical up-and-down movement

These abnormalities put implants at risk for the same reason they put natural teeth at risk – the jaw is putting too much pressure on the implants over too long a time. This can lead to implant damage down the line.

There are also extra considerations when it comes to implants because they do not take to your mouth right away. Your body must undergo the months-long process of osseointegration, the fusion of the implants with your natural jawbone tissue. Repeated grinding could hinder this process. Dental implants also lack a periodontal ligament, which allows a natural tooth to withstand pressure from your jaw.

An oral surgeon may take a variety of preventative actions to encourage implant success for patients who exhibit symptoms of bruxism. They can choose a wider diameter for your implant, so any pressure from grinding, gnashing or clenching is distributed across a larger surface. For extra strength, they can use titanium alloys for the implant material. It is also highly likely you will need a bite guard, which will prevent you from doing damage overnight by distributing pressure across your teeth and sparing your implants.

Discuss Bruxism Concerns and Dental Implants With Greater Louisville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Even if you have bruxism, you may still be a great candidate for dental implants. Let the expert surgeons at Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates help brighten your smile with precise dental implant surgery that can restore both rows of your pearly whites to their original state. Our practice serves the Louisville, Shelbyville, Brandenburg, Southern Indiana and Elizabethtown areas. Give us a call at 502-459-8012 to schedule your consultation today!

1 http://www.dentistrytoday.com/implants/1277