You’ve likely heard of it, but what is dry socket, exactly?
Dry socket is a complication that can occur after a tooth removal. Only 2% of tooth removals result in dry socket, but that number jumps to 20% for a wisdom tooth removal, in particular. It can be fairly uncomfortable, and dry socket demands immediate attention from a dentist.
If you suspect your child has dry socket, schedule an appointment with a dentist right away. If you’re preparing for your child’s wisdom tooth removal surgery, and you want to learn more about dry socket causes, symptoms, and prevention – keep reading!
When wisdom teeth are pulled, there’s a hole in the gum where the tooth used to be. That hole is called a socket. An essential part of the healing process is the formation of a blood clot in the socket to protect the nerves and bone. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot gets damaged or dislodged before the area has had time to heal.
Removing a wisdom tooth can be more complex than a standard tooth removal. Sometimes, it requires cutting below the gum line. A large, deep hole like the one left by a wisdom tooth can lead to dry socket.
If your child has had (or will have) a wisdom tooth removed, keep an eye out for the symptoms of dry socket:
* Pain: Pain in and around the treatment area is a common sign of dry socket. If the bone and surrounding nerves are exposed, and there’s no blood clot protecting them, then pain can be quite substantial. Dry socket pain typically begins around two days after the tooth removal. It usually stems from the gums or jaw and radiates toward the ear.
* Bad taste (or smell) in the mouth: Several conditions can cause an unusual taste in the mouth, but if your child has a bad taste or smell in their mouth after a tooth extraction, it’s best to see a dentist as soon as possible, as it could be a sign of dry socket.
Essentially, a dry socket is a hole that isn’t covered by a blood clot – and that’s exactly what it looks like. In some cases, you may be able to see whitish bone in the hole. Remember, the clot takes time to form, so an uncovered hole in the gum can be normal immediately after surgery. If you’re not sure, if it’s been days since your child’s surgery, or if your child experiences any symptoms of dry socket, it’s best to see a dentist, just in case.
Eating hard, chewy, hot, or spicy foods after a wisdom tooth extraction may cause dry socket, as they can irritate the wound. Other dry socket risk factors include:
When your child has a wisdom tooth removed at a Kool Smiles Kids Club partner clinic, you can rest assured that the dentist will go above and beyond to make sure the treatment area is well-cleaned and primed for healthy healing. Our partner dentists will send you home with plenty of guidance and the confidence you’ll need to care for your child after a tooth removal.
If your child has had wisdom tooth surgery with a Kool Smiles partner dentist, and you’re worried they may have dry socket, reach out to the clinic immediately. The dentist will check for infection, recommend techniques (and possibly medication) for pain relief, and repack the socket (if necessary).