When Can I Stop Worrying About Dry Socket? (A Comprehensive Guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at the question “When can you stop worrying about a dry socket?”, as well as other information about dry sockets.

When Can I Stop Worrying About Dry Socket?

You can usually stop worrying about dry sockets about 5-7 days after getting your teeth extracted, and about 10 days after the extraction you can rest easy, because the possibility of dry sockets goes away completely after that long.

The reason people worry about dry sockets so much is because they can hurt very badly, and the symptoms that follow a tooth extraction often feel so horrible that anyone that has to get their teeth extracted can be extremely worried about these complications.

Luckily, there are ways to find out if you have got a dry socket, and if you do there are still things you can do, and your dentist will likely tell you about your options.

A dry socket results when the blood clot that is supposed to form over your socket at the site of the extraction, doesn’t form, and this leads to raw tissue, nerve endings, and bone being exposed. 

Of course, this can be very painful because these nerve endings are very sensitive, and a dry socket may therefore not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers and you may need the dentist’s intervention.

To recognize a dry socket, here are some symptom you need to look for:

  • Pain that extends across the side of your face from where your tooth was pulled
  • Lack of dark blood clot over your socket at the site of extraction
  • Severe pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications
  • Visible bone in your socket
  • Bad taste, smell, or the presence of pus in your mouth.

You should also expect to feel slightly sore and swollen the first day after surgery, and this feeling may persist for a couple of days too, in some cases, but if you don’t experience an alleviation in your symptoms even after 2-3 days, or you feel worse, you should see your dentist because it may be a sign of complications.

Another common sign of dry sockets is seeing small amounts of blood on your gauze dressing and if you are experiencing increased pain along with this symptom, you should definitely contact your dentist.

What is a dry socket?

A dry socket is a complication of tooth extraction which may be caused by the lack of blood clot in place of the extraction which leads to exposed tissue, bone and nerve endings, and causes pain and discomfort.

When a dentist removes a tooth from the bone and gums, a blood clot usually takes its place, and this blood clot serves as a protection for the gums as the site heals. 

In cases where there is no blood clot, because either it didn’t form or it has become dislodged from your gums, it can create a dry socket, and this can leave the gums bare.

The problem with a dry socket, apart from the fact that it causes pain, is that because it leaves the nerves and tissue exposed, it can often lead to infections and further complications, and that is why it is so important to get this condition checked.

Even though so many people are scared of dry sockets, and they do tend to be some of the most common complications of oral surgery, dry sockets are still very rare, and after many studies to understand the incidence rate of dry sockets, it has been found that this rate is merely 1.8%.

You may be more at risk for a dry socket if you have had one before, and this is a big reason to make sure that your dentist or oral surgeon is aware of your history with dry socket ahead of your tooth extraction.

You are also more likely to develop a dry socket if you smoke tobacco or chew tobacco, and using other substances of any kind can also be a major reason for the development of a dry socket.

The reason tobacco often puts people at risk for a dry socket is because tobacco products don’t just contain tobacco and smoke, they also contain chemicals, which can adversely affect the environment in your mouth and make complications and infections more common.

Another risk factor for dry sockets is taking oral contraceptives because these birth control pills contain high levels of estrogen, which may disrupt the healing process.

Lastly, you may also be at risk for a dry socket if you are not caring for the wound properly or ignoring your dentist’s instructions for at-home care in some way.

Failing to practice good oral hygiene can cause a dry socket.

How can I avoid Dry Socket?

You can avoid a dry socket by ensuring that you follow the doctor’s orders to a fault, and maintain the proper level of care that needs to be maintained for a tooth extraction to heal properly.

A dry socket can be avoided if you don’t smoke before or after the tooth extraction as well, and if you are particularly addicted to nicotine, you might want to consider getting on a nicotine patch, because obviously the usual nicotine gum will not help you.

Another thing you can do to avoid a dry socket is to ensure you are not taking any medications that can keep your blood from clotting or any pills that alter your hormones in any way, which can both have adverse effects on oral hygiene.

You can also avoid a dry socket by making sure that you use the antiseptic and antibacterial mouthwashes and other medicated cleaning products your dentist may have given you.

How to treat a Dry Socket?

You will likely have to wait for the dry socket to get better on its own, because this condition usually resolves in its own time, and intervention mostly consists of managing pain and getting through the process.

In the meantime, as the site of the dry socket is in the process of healing, you need to make sure that your oral hygiene is at its best, because having a dry socket means that you may be at risk for infections and further complications.

Your dentist may also prescribe you some medicines that are stronger than the typical over the counter ones which may help your pain considerably.

You can also use an ice pack over your cheek as a cold compress, because that tends to help with tooth pain in most cases and can help you with the dry socket pain as well.

Tips and Facts about Dry Sockets from Real People

Here are some of the best things to know about dry sockets from real individuals who have experienced it, on the dentistry subreddit:

“eat!!! soups are great, or anything soft. Were you given a syringe to irrigate the area? If so, then just clean it out after you eat and you should be fine. I was eating soup for the first few days, but eating stuff like grilled cheeses and oatmeal for the next few days, and after maybe 10 days I was eating normally. Just try and eat something, if you can’t clean out the socket after then you can just go back to the dentist and they will help you.”

“Dry socket is an inflammatory reaction of the bone in response to the loss of the clot. That is, the socket is prevented from healing normally.

At 6 days you should be pretty much out of the woods. Dry socket almost always presents 1-4 days later. You should definitely be eating. If you’re really worried about it, I wouldn’t smoke or use straws.”

“Post op day 5. The pain is manageable with ibuprofen and I’ve been taking antibiotics with it.”

“My perspective is if you have to ask if you have a dry socket you probably don’t have one because If you have one you KNOW!”

“I got mine out yesterday and it definitely looks like there’s a hole there but I do see a dark red clot kinda inside the hole. It doesn’t fill up the hole though it looks kinda bumpy around there. If you don’t have to think about the pain, I like to think it’s not a dry socket. I’m not a professional but from my personal experience, I’m feeling pain too. I got both my top and bottom right side ones out and I was given ten tablets of Tylenol 3 with Codeine, supposed to take it every four hours but it makes me sleepy so I stopped taking it this morning. Now I’m very sore and when I swallow it feels like it’s pulling at the holes but from what my friends say, that’s normal. Mine is still bleeding sometimes too. I don’t want to give the wrong assumption but from what it sounds like, I think you’re okay. Just make sure no straws, no spitting, no exercise for a week. If it keeps hurting you could call the dentist and ask them about it. Tomorrow is Friday so if you’re worried about dealing with it over the weekend, I recommend calling them at least for peace of mind.”

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at the question “When can you stop worrying about a dry socket?”, as well as other information about dry sockets. If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): When Can I Stop Worrying About Dry Socket

Can you get a dry socket after a week?

No, you cannot get a dry socket after a week, because if you are going to get a dry socket, you will usually get it within the first 24-48 hours of getting surgery, and if you have not got it by then, chances are that you can’t get it.

Can you get a dry socket after 3 days?

Yes, you can get a dry socket after 3 days, and the pain for a dry socket usually begins around one to three days after your tooth is removed. 

Dry socket can be one of the most common complications following tooth extractions, and many people may experience it after removal of third molars which are commonly known as wisdom teeth.

Over-the-counter medications alone are usually not enough to treat dry socket pain and you might have to see a dentist.

Will a dry socket heal on its own?

Yes, barring any further complications, a dry socket tends to heal on its own, however, you may still experience pain and discomfort as it heals.

If your condition isn’t too bad and you are going to treat a dry socket at home, make sure you clean the wound with cool water, irrigate the socket with saline, and keep gauze over the socket.

Do you know immediately if you have a dry socket?

Yes, you can know immediately if you have a dry socket, because instead of the typical dark blood clot you should see, you might see just whitish bone and the pain of a dry socket usually starts about 2 days after the tooth was pulled. 

The pain of a dry socket can become quite severe and radiate to your ear and some other symptoms of dry socket may include bad breath and an unpleasant smell and taste in your mouth.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/health/when-can-i-stop-worrying-about-dry-sockets#:~:text=This%20risk%20is%20present%20until,once%20the%20site%20is%20healed.

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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