You have finally decided to get rid of that tooth that’s been causing you persistent and lingering pain for a long time – there’s just no point in keeping it. Despite your great fear of dentists, you make an appointment for tooth extraction believing that the procedure will also extract the pain that you have been suffering from; however, the pain remains. People have spoken about “phantom pains” – could that be what you’re experiencing? It could be, but if the pain keeps growing more intense as days roll in, and it’s accompanied by bad breath, a foul taste in your mouth, and inflammation on the extraction site (even if it is empty, meaning there’s no blood clot), it’s best to pay your dentist a visit because it’s possible that you have a condition called a dry socket.
What is a dry socket?
Also known as alveolar osteitis, it is basically the hole in the bone where the tooth had been removed. Normally, after a tooth extraction, a blood clot is created in the socket or hole to protect the bone and nerves underneath and then initiate the healing process. In rare instances, this clot can become dislodged or it can dissolve leaving the bone and nerve exposed to air, food particles, fluids and all other things that enter the mouth. These elements especially when mixed with the enzymes of saliva can build up bacteria in the mouth and lead to infection in and surrounding the hole. This infection creates severe pain several days after the extraction and lasts through several more days.
People who practice proper oral hygiene normally do not have anything to worry about – those prone to this condition are people with special circumstances; smokers, people who had a wisdom tooth extracted or a difficult tooth extraction are more likely to be the ones who suffer from a dry socket. Sometimes dry socket can happen in anyone if they try to wash the extraction area too much in the days following an extraction.
To properly treat the pain, dentists apply medicated dressing to aid the healing process, or dry socket medication which consists of eugenol (analgesic) benzocaine (anaesthetic) and iodophorm (antimicrobial). Non-steroidal pain relievers like aspirin and Ibuprofen can be taken as this is primarily an inflammation of the bone. If the pain just won’t go away, dentists either prescribe a stronger pain reliever or administer a therapeutic nerve block injection until the medication in the socket can work. They also clean the hole to make sure that there are no embedded particles in it that may worsen the infection.
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