Can You Identify Dry Socket Symptoms?
Dry socket symptoms are different from the usual discomfort that accompanies tooth extraction. It’s normal to have some swelling and pain in the treatment area during the first day or two after oral surgery. The warning signs of dry socket usually start two to five days after extraction (although the condition may appear later in some cases). The symptoms occur when the blood clot that should be protecting the tooth socket is disrupted in some way, leaving the nerves and bone exposed. Here are the most common dry socket symptoms:
This symptom begins a few days after you have a tooth removed. It may start in the socket itself. However, the throbbing pain often begins radiating down into the jaw and neck or up to the ear or eye as nearby nerves become sensitized. The pain will be on the same side of your face as the affected tooth socket. Rather than getting better, this pain will remain constant or become more severe. It may flare up even worse whenever air, food, or fluids come into contact with the socket. If you don’t have dry socket, any pain after extraction gets less and less noticeable each day. If that’s not happening, you should contact your dentist right away.
In some cases, you may actually be able to see that the dark blood clot is missing from your socket. You might see just a dry looking hole in the gum tissue. Or, you could see all the way down to the whitish bone. The area may have gray/yellow debris or dead tissue in it. The surrounding gums may be red and swollen. If you suspect the clot is missing, don’t go probing around in your mouth with your finger, tongue or other implements. That could dislodge the clot if it isn’t already gone. Instead, have your dentist check the area for you.
Your breath may have a foul odor. You might also notice a persistently bad taste in your mouth. This dry socket symptom may be associated with bacteria, food debris or necrotic (dead) tissue trapped in the empty socket. Brushing your teeth and using mouthwash won’t make this symptom go away more than temporarily. If you’ve been carefully following your post-operative instructions for oral hygiene and still have halitosis or a nasty taste in your mouth, contact your dentist. Remember that excessive rinsing and spitting can actually cause dry socket.
Sometimes, the inflammation from interrupted healing can cause swelling in the area around your extraction site. This dry socket symptom may affect your gums and jaw, causing soreness. In other cases, the lymph nodes along your jaw or in your neck may swell up. Systemic infection associated with dry socket is rare, but it is possible. If you do have a fever after a tooth extraction, this can be a sign of a serious complication.
When to Contact Your Dentist
You should call your dentist as soon as you suspect that your blood clot has been damaged or dislodged. Don’t wait for the pain to become unbearable. Dry socket symptoms don’t go away until the extraction site begins to heal. Your dentist can provide treatment to speed up the healing process and relieve pain.