Treating a dry socket yourself.

This page discusses things that you can do, on your own, to treat a dry socket. We'd recommend to you, however, that a self-treatment approach should only be used as a last resort.

Related page.

The most comprehensive and effective treatment can only be provided by a dentist. And it's the obligation of the dentist who extracted your tooth to provide you with whatever post-operative care you require. (Use the link to the right for more information.)

What can a person do on their own to treat their dry socket?

a) Try taking an over-the-counter analgesic.

While it's worth a try, you'll probably find that the discomfort caused by a dry socket is too overwhelming for an OTC pain reliever to handle. (Prescription analgesics, on their own, are typically ineffective too).

The most effective remedy is placing medicated paste directly into the extraction site (see below). Then, once this step has been initiated, an analgesic is sometimes used to provide supplementary relief.

b) Application of Eugenol (oil of cloves).

This is a home remedy that attempts to duplicate the treatment that a dentist might provide.

When a dentist treats a dry socket, they place a medicated dressing directly into the patient's extraction site.

While there are a number of different types/brands of dressing a dentist may choose to use, a common denominator among them is they usually contain the ingredient eugenol. (Some practitioners may choose to treat dry sockets using just eugenol alone.)

Eugenol (also referred to as "oil of cloves") can be purchased on an over-the-counter basis (without a prescription). Ask your pharmacist about suitable products and availability.

Home-remedy treatment for a dry socket.

Here's how the eugenol-dry socket home remedy is used:

  • The tooth socket is gently rinsed so any loose debris is removed.
  • A very few drops of eugenol are placed on a carrier (a piece of cotton or 1/4 inch square of gauze).
  • Using tweezers, the carrier is inserted into the tooth socket.
  • The carrier is removed, discarded and then replaced with another one every 24 hours until the dry socket's pain has subsided.
  • It's better to go comparatively light with the amount/concentration of eugenol used. If clove oil touches other parts of your mouth (soft tissues, tongue), it will sting and burn. It also has an unpleasant taste.

In most cases, eugenol treatment will provide substantial pain relief within the hour, possibly even within minutes.

Treating a dry socket on your own doesn't make the best choice.

A home-remedy approach can't duplicate your dentist's care. Here's why:

  • As with any type of post-extraction complication, it's best to have a dentist's evaluation.
         Drawing on their expertise they can determine what the most likely cause of your problem is and how it should be treated. (Just because you think you have a dry socket doesn't mean that you do.)
  • They'll have all of the tools and equipment needed to properly visualize your wound and perform your treatment as effectively and quickly as possible.
         For example, ineffectual cleansing of the tooth socket, or a failure to remove the gauze or cotton carrier described above, could allow the formation of a secondary infection.
  • The dressing that your dentist places will probably contain a number of additional ingredients that, collectively, are more effective than just eugenol alone.

When home care may make sense.

If you do choose to use a home-remedy approach, you should discuss your plans with your dentist and let them advise you accordingly.

The two of you may determine that self-treatment can be used to supplement their efforts. For example, it might be a way for you to obtain relief (or more frequent periods of relief) during those times when your dentist's assistance isn't available.

 All FYI's ► 

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