What is Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis?

Teeth are logged in a socket on the jaw be it lower or upper jaw. Sometimes complication arises and one has to remove one or several teeth. Tooth removal is always a painful process followed by discomfort in the mouth. On removal of a tooth, the body responds by having that socket closed up by blood clotting hence protecting the inner laying bone which carries the nerves and blood vessels. In many cases the, the blood fails to clot leading to an expose inner layer of the bones, after few days, pain develops and get severe pulling all the way to the ear. These phenomenon of failure of blood to clot around the wound is the one medics referred to as dry socket or alveolar osteitis. It is the painful complication which typically occurs after a tooth is pulled out. Dry socket is given a scientific name of Alveolar osteitis. This inturn leads to the inflammation of the alveolar bone. The defect occurs in close to 0.5-5% tooth extraction across the world meaning it is not that common.

What is Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis?

Is Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis an Infection?

No dry socket or alveolar osteitis is not an infection. When there is a pre existing infection such as chronic periodontitis or necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, a dry socket or alveolar osteitis usually happens.

How do I know If I have Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis?

After tooth removal, you should be on the lookout, after the anaesthesia is worn out, the patient should be alert on any extra pain. After two to four days, if the pain increases, then there is development of dry socket or alveolar osteitis and medical attention should consulted. Other people will prefer irritating the wound with warm water to establish the exposure of the bone.

Will Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis Heal on its Own?

Under normal circumstances if there is no infection in the mouth the dry socket or alveolar osteitis will heal on its own but the pain caused by it has to be managed properly with the help of home remedies.

Causes of Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

The main cause of dry socket or alveolar osteitis is the failure of the blood to clot around the wound. Blood clotting failure is normally caused by deficiency of iron in the blood but it is only few of the reasons why the blood fails to clot in the dry socket case. The dry socket or alveolar osteitis is mainly caused by the failure of these so named blood clotting that may come about as a result of poor dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is very important to any human and must be done with right mediums which include the tooth paste and the right tooth brush in the correct procedure. Poor mouth cleaning leads to increase in the bacterial inhabiting in the mouth. As the dentist say, the mouth is a habitat to various bacteria that might cause infection and one of them is causing the failure of blood clotting.

Another reason that might be a probable cause of the clotting failure is the pain and agony that one undergoes while extracting the tooth. Greater than normal trauma as a result of tooth remove is always a contender to this.

Smokers are also likely victims to dry socket or alveolar osteitis. The smoke tar will affect the gums around the tooth making them unhealthy thus prone to this so called failure clotting.

Women who use birth control pills can easily be affected by the dry socket or alveolar osteitis problem. Also people with history of dry socket or alveolar osteitis are prone to the condition.

Symptoms of Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

The major symptom to dry socket or alveolar osteitis is a whitish instead of a black dot at the scene of tooth removal. This whitish dot is the jaw bone that is exposed and appears after two days or so. A blackish look will indicate correct healing process. Dry socket or alveolar osteitis are accompanied with extreme pain that may extend to the ear.

Bad breath is also another serious symptom to dry socket or alveolar osteitis. A freshly removed teeth emitting foul breath required immediate medical attention.

Tests to Diagnosis Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

There are several test that one can perform on himself or herself to determine whether he is under attack of the dry socket or alveolar osteitis or the healing process is on course. First, after the anaesthesia is worn out, the pain should fade, if the pain persist, the one should irritate the gum or point of dry socket or alveolar osteitis with worm water to check if the socket is exposed. Visual examination can also be used to see if there is whitish at the point instead of black clot. If this is not sufficient, the more medical examination can be performed using radiograph and X-rays imaging to check on bone fragmentation.

Treatment for Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

Dry socket or alveolar osteitis are treated by systematic irrigation by saline medium to remove debris from the socket. This is best done by the dentist but the patient can also be trained to perform the procedure.

Another way of treating the dry socket or alveolar osteitis is the use of medicated dressing. The major disadvantage of this is that the dressing act as debris in the socket, this contributes to pain elongation. The major anaesthetic reagents accompanying the dressing may be either zinc oxide and eugenol that have been impregnated in cotton pellets, alvogyl, ribbon gauze and metronidazole, dentalone and bismuth subnitrate and iodoform past or a combination of these.

Home Remedies for Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

There are a few home remedies for dry socket or alveolar osteitis:

  • Once faced with dry socket or alveolar osteitis, you can you can try several of the given treatments but the easiest to try at home, is cleaning the socket with saline medium possibly salt that will disinfect the socket reducing chances of infection.
  • Turmeric solution consists of a pinch of turmeric mixed in luke warm water, this solution has to be used to rinse the mouth, doing it twice a day is an excellent home remedy for dry socket or alveolar osteitis.
  • Pressing the cold tea bag with your teeth on the affected region can help in relieving the pain caused by dry socket or alveolar osteitis.
  • Use a piece of cotton dipped in clove oil to place it on the dry socket to get immediate relief from the pain.
  • Yogurt has natural antibiotics and consuming it can help in pain relief.

Coping with Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

Dry socket or alveolar osteitis is characterized with intense pain, to cope with this intense, one should first look for medical attention. Apply the dressing with the right anaesthetic agent and take antibiotics as prescribed by the dentist. Brush your teeth clean to get rid of the sugars after meals since the debris will get into the wound and decompose creating more problems. The sugars also act as nourishment to the bacteria in the mouth thus cleaning the mouth will help remove the sugars before the condition escalates.

Prevention of Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

There are many ways of preventing dry socket or alveolar osteitis. The easiest is keeping your mouth clean by using the right cleaning methods. For people who are on birth control pill should get other ways of controlling the same. Avoid at all cost smoking since smoking will bring you other more complicated disease other than dry socket or alveolar osteitis.

Risk Factors for Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

A pre existing infection is a risk factor for dry socket or alveolar osteitis. After tooth removal, the casualty should enhance proper hygiene to prevent infections. Infections are most serious complication one can get. Since the mouth has numerous bacteria, infections can worsen the situation leading to stale mouth breath, gum decomposition which can in turn infect the surrounding.

Nerve exposure can lead to nervous system damage. Exposure of nerves also inflict pain to the patient.

Since there is lack of clotting, there will be intensive bleeding which expose the victim to anaemic risks.

Complications of Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

Mouth infection is a serious complication. Infection can result to medical condition that may result to removal of all teeth from the mouth. Infection can also affect the gums worsening the dental problems of the patient.

Dry socket or alveolar osteitis can cause a lot of problems to the victim due to the stale breath effect which will cause discomfort leading to savoured relation with friends and family who will not understand your plight.

Prognosis/Outlook for Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

The outlook or prognosis for dry socket or alveolar osteitis is good and the condition is not very common. Only 0.5 to 5 percent of the people who extract teeth are affected with this condition implying that with good sensitisation of the masses, we have minimal chances of experiencing the same in future.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Dry Socket or Alveolar Osteitis

The recovery period for dry socket or alveolar osteitis depends on the mode of treatment and your doctor should be the one who can provide you with the average recovery time. Consult your doctor for the recovery time and for further questions like recurrence.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 6, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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