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What Are the Common Treatments for Dry Socket?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Dry socket, also called alveolar osteitis, is a possible complication that may occur after a dentist extracts a tooth. When the blood clot at the area is disturbed before the patient heals, it can expose nerves and cause severe pain. Treatments for dry socket include prescribing medication to alleviate the pain, having a dentist clean the area, and using simple home care treatments to encourage healing. A dressing with medication will be applied to the extraction site to prevent or treat any infections that may have developed.

Patients who experience pain, an unpleasant taste or smell in the mouth, and bad breath after having a tooth pulled should see their dentist as soon as possible. Treatments for dry socket often begin with alleviating the pain. Some patients may find relief with over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Other patients may require a prescription-strength pain reliever. Before taking any new drug, patients should discuss their other medications and supplements with a doctor or pharmacist.

In addition to addressing the pain, treatments for dry socket will require cleaning the extraction site, which is a step performed by the dentist or oral surgeon. Debris, such as food particles, may have accumulated in the area which can cause an infection and worsen the pain. It will need to be flushed clean of all foreign matter.

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After cleaning the area, the dentist will apply medicated dressings to the socket. Topical treatments for dry socket may also include a medicated paste. The dressings contain a pain reliever and will also help promote healing. Some patients may need to return to the dentist once daily to change the dressings, while others may require a changing several times each day until the area heals. This often depends on the severity of the pain and whether the patient has an infection.

Patients who have developed an infection may be prescribed oral antibiotics. Sometimes, a patient may be prescribed antibiotics for preventative measures. The dentist may instruct the patient to rinse the mouth gently with a prescription-strength mouthwash to ward off infections. Rinsing with warm, salt water can also help. Some patients may be instructed to use a special syringe to apply the salt water or mouthwash directly to the socket to help flush away debris.

Treatments for dry socket can also include some home care remedies. When cleaning the teeth, patients should use a toothbrush with extra soft bristles and brush very gently. They should never brush the extraction site directly, but rather, they should clean around it. Patients should avoid tobacco products and also avoid drinking through a straw. Ice packs held to the jaw area may help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.

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