Dry socket wisdom teeth: Causes & What to do

loose wisdom tooth

The wisdom teeth is the last molars that grow at the back of the gums. These teeth are usually three or four in number and usually grow through the gums during the late teens or early twenties. By the time the wisdom teeth are coming out, the other adult teeth are usually in place, so there won’t be enough space in the mouths to accommodate their eruption. Due to problems with accommodation, the wisdom teeth tends to emerge buried below the gums or get stuck and become only partially emerged.

It’s not all impacted wisdom teeth that may need to be removed, especially if they are not ausing any problem or discomforts. Well, sometimes wisdom teeth that have become impacted or haven’t fully broken through the surface of the gum can cause certain discomforts. Impacted wisdom teeth may cause pain, swelling and negatively affect the movement of other teeth. In most cases, food particles and harmful bacteria can get trapped around the edges of the wisdom teeth, and this can eventually lead to tooth decay, gingivitis (gum disease) and gums recession.

However, if your wisdom teeth are causing severe pain and discomforts, it’s always advisable to make an appointment to see your dentist. The dentist will have to check your wisdom teeth and advise you whether they need to be removed.

Wisdom teeth removal

The removal of wisdom teeth is one of the most common surgical procedures that dentists perform very often. If it turns out that your wisdom teeth has to be removed, the dentist will need to carry out an X-ray of your mouth before the extraction surgery. Patients are usually given a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area around the teeth and the surrounding gums. The whole, extraction process is painless, but you will only feel pressure as your dentist widen the teeth socket by rocking the teeth back and forth before taking them out from their socket.

Sometimes, depending on the nature of your wisdom teeth, the dentist may need to cut the teeth into smaller pieces for easy removal. However, after your wisdom teeth have been removed, it’s normal for you to have mild swelling and discomforts, both inside and outside your mouth. It is also very important for to know that when wisdom teeth are extracted, there are a number of complications that may occur after surgery.

Possible complications after wisdom teeth removal

1. Infection. The wound can get infected if you don’t follow your dentist’s instructions after the extraction. Possible signs of an infection includes: high body temperature, yellow or white discharge from the extraction site, and persistent pain and severe swellings.

2. Nerve injury. This complication is less common but it occurs if the sections of a nerve called the trigeminal nerve are injured while the dentist or oral surgeon is removing the wisdom teeth. Nerve damage during tooth extraction can cause pain, a tingling sensation and numbness in your tongue, lower lip, chin, and gums. Pain and discomforts from minor nerve damage usually last for a few weeks or months. However, if the damages are too severe, it can last for a very long time.

3. Excessive bleeding. It’s common to experience heavy bleeding and have unpleasant taste in your mouth if you suffered more than normal trauma at the surgical site due to difficult extraction. It’s is advisable for you to see your dentist or oral surgeon if you are bleeding heavily from the extraction site.

4. Dry socket. A dry socket occurs when the blood clot breaks down or is dislodged, exposing the underlying bone and nerves. Dry socket is usually followed by severe pain, aching sensation in the gums, ear, jaw or face and sometimes a bad smell or taste coming from the empty tooth socket. However, most people develop dry socket as a result of not following the after-care instructions given to them by their dentist.

Dry socket wisdom teeth

Having a dry socket (alveolar osteitis) after wisdom teeth extraction is one of the most common complications of wisdom tooth removal. You will have a dry socket where a blood clot fails to develop in the tooth socket, or if the blood clot becomes dislodged or disappeared early. Once you have developed dry socket, if you look into the socket, you will only see exposed whitish bone instead of a dark blood clot covering the area.

The exposure of the underlying bone and nerves endings usually results in intense pain and discomforts. The pain from dry socket can radiate from the socket to your ear, eye, temple or neck. Well, if you notice new or worsening pain in some few days after your wisdom teeth extraction, go back and see your dentist or oral surgeon.

Causes of dry socket after wisdom teeth removal

The exact cause of dry socket after tooth removal is quite unclear, researchers suspect that bacterial contamination of the socket and trauma at the surgical site can lead to dry socket. In addition, there are some factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing dry socket. So, you’re more at risk of developing dry socket after wisdom teeth extraction if:

  • you smoke and use tobacco. The toxins and chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco may prevent or slow healing and might even contaminate the wound site.
  • you don’t follow aftercare instructions. Failure to follow your dentist’s instructions after the extraction may increase your risk of dry socket.
  • the extraction was difficult or complicated.
  • you have had dry socket in the past.
  • you take oral contraceptives. Oral contraceptives may disrupt the normal healing processes and increase your risk of dry socket.

What to do next?

See your dentist or surgeon if you think you have dry socket. The dentist or surgeon will check for the symptoms of dry socket. If it turns out that you have dry socket, the dentist will flush any debris out of the socket and cover it with a medicated dressing which will help to promote healing and decrease pain. The medicated dressings may be removed and replaced frequently until the socket heals.

In addition, the dentist may also prescribe some antibiotics and antiseptic solutions for you to prevent infection. The dentist will also advise you on the type of foods and drink that you should take until the socket heals. However, with proper care and cleaning, the dry socket should heal on its own in 7 to 10 days. You can check here to see – how to prevent dry socket.

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