Dry Sockets (alveolar osteitis).
a) What are they? - A dry socket is a post-operative complication that delays the normal healing process that takes place after a tooth extraction.
Formation involves a situation where the blood clot that should occupy the extraction site is instead lost.
b) Signs and symptoms - The signs of a dry socket include throbbing pain and a foul odor and taste coming from the extraction site. These symptoms typically do not appear until several days after the tooth has been removed.
c) Treatment - Pain medications on their own, even prescription ones, are seldom effective in managing the discomfort associated with a dry socket. The most effective treatment is one where the patient's dentist inserts a medicated dressing (daily if needed) directly in the wound. In a pinch, this home remedy can be used to provide relief.
d) Risk factors / Prevention - Dental research and clinical observation have identified a number of risk factors that correlate with the potential for developing a dry socket. Identification of these factors can be useful in preventing their formation.
A) Why they form.
While the exact pathogenesis of dry socket formation (more formally "alveolar osteitis") has yet to be determined, the following factors are involved.
1) The blood clot is lost.
Formation involves a scenario where the blood clot that forms in the tooth's socket immediately after its removal isn't properly retained. Either it disintegrates (by way of a process termed fibrinolysis) or else is dislodged (by an activity such as vigorous rinsing).
2) Healing is delayed.
Since this blood clot is an important factor in initiating the healing process, and protecting the boney tooth socket as it takes place, the progress of the extraction site's healing is interrupted and subsequently delayed.