In this article, we are going to look at some pictures of dry socket and some of the common ways to identify a dry socket. But before then, for you to understand better about dry socket, we are going to look at the definition, the common causes and symptoms.
What is dry socket?
Dry socket also referred to as alveolar osteitis is one of the complications that usually occur after a permanent tooth tooth is extracted. However, the occurrence of dry socket is less common, it occurs only in about 2 to 5 % of tooth extractions. Sometimes, the percentage rises up to 20% when it involves the removal of impacted wisdom teeth. A dry socket is a condition that often occur after a tooth extraction when the blood clot that normally fills the socket dissolves or falls out too soon, exposing the underlying bone and nerves. Don’t worry, as we continue to move through this article, I will show you some of these things.
Normally, after a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms covering the space where the tooth was pulled from. The formation of these clot is very important, since it is the first step to healing. It helps to protect the underlying bone and nerve endings until the gums has healed. So, if the blood clot fails to form or falls out too soon, it can lead to the exposure of the bone and nerves. Without a protective layer (dry socket), bone and nerves are left exposed, leading to intense pain inside the socket. The pain can also extend to the jaw, ear, neck or other parts of the face and head.
Causes of dry socket
In general, dry socket appears when there is partial or total loss of blood clot in the tooth socket after a tooth extraction. If the blood clot is lost or does not form, the bone is exposed and healing is delayed. Health professionals believe that the occurrence of dry socket is a result of bacterial, chemical, mechanical, and physiological factors. In most cases, pre-existing infection that is present in the mouth prior to a dental extraction such as periodontal disease (periodontitis or gingivitis) can prevent proper formation of a blood clot.
In addition, it is also believed that hormonal changes and exposure to nicotine can reduce the blood supply available to the healing socket and can prevent the proper formation of a blood clot at the extraction site. So, smoking and the use of any form of tobacco after an extraction, increases a person’s risk for developing a dry socket due to the nicotine contained in these products.
However, it has been reported that women are more likely to develop a dry socket than men. This is often associated with increased hormonal changes related to the use of oral contraceptives or normal hormonal changes during a woman’s cycle.
1. Severe pain. With the loss of blood clot, the nerves and bone are exposed leading to the excruciating pain felt by the patients. The pain usually start between the second to third day after the extraction surgery. It can worsen overtime, radiating from the socket to your ear, eye, temple, neck, or face.
2. Delayed healing. A dry socket will create a delay in healing which could possibly affect the normal healing time. The symptoms plus discomforts may last for up to a week or more depending on how you managed the condition.
3.Persistent bad breath and foul odor. Since the socket is left uncovered, food particles tends to accumulate and disintegrating, giving rise to extreme foul odor from the socket.
4. Unpleasant taste in the mouth. Most people do experience metallic taste in their mouth after undergoing a tooth extraction. Sometimes, the metallic taste is normal due to the clot, but if the clot is missing, it can mean another thing.
5. Visible bone in the socket. Due to partial or total loss of the blood clot at the tooth extraction site, the white, underlying bone will be visible. Below is a picture showing the bone inside the socket of a patient with dry socket.
Pictures of dry socket
Below are some of the photos that I got to show you how dry socket actually looks like.
Finally, it’s normal to be afraid if you just had your tooth extracted, make sure that you follow all the post extraction instruction given by your dentist or oral surgeon. If the socket was packed with gauze, follow the healthcare provider’s instructions to care for it. Follow up with your oral surgeon or dentist to have the gauze changed at the right time. In the meantime, it is normal for the blood clot to turn black, as the socket heals you may start to notice white patches on the site showing that the gingiva is healing.
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