What Is a Dry Socket After a Wisdom Tooth Procedure?

Since wisdom teeth are the last molars to emerge at the back of your mouth, they are likely to erupt at the wrong angle or get stuck underneath your gums due to limited space in your jaw. When this happens, you are said to have impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause numerous oral complications, including infections and cavities.

To avoid these problems, dentists advise patients to remove their wisdom teeth as soon as they emerge. However, wisdom teeth extraction can result in several complications, including dry sockets. If you don’t know what a dry socket is, this article provides you with the answer.

What Is a Dry Socket?

A dry socket occurs when there is an inflammation in your jawbone (alveolar bone) after tooth extraction. This condition is also referred to as alveolar osteitis. It is one of the problems that are likely to occur after wisdom teeth extraction. However, the occurrence of a dry socket is quite unusual, happening in just about 2 percent of tooth extractions. But, this percentage increases to about 20 percent when it involves the extraction of impacted lower wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, a dry socket will leave the underlying wisdom teeth nerves exposed, causing serious pain.

What Causes a Dry Socket?

A dry socket is mainly caused by losing a blood clot in the empty tooth socket after a wisdom tooth extraction. When your wisdom tooth has been extracted, a blood clot will form inside the empty socket as the first step in the healing process. So, if the blood clot is lost or doesn’t form properly, your jawbone will be left exposed. This will delay the healing process and might lead to other oral complications.

Many factors can contribute to the lack of or poor blood clot formation in the tooth socket after tooth extraction. Here are some of the contributing factors:

  • Bacteria: If you have a pre-existing infection in your mouth before the extraction of your wisdom teeth, like periodontal disease, it might prevent the formation of a blood clot or cause the breakdown of the clot.
  • Chemical: If you smoke cigarettes, the nicotine found in tobacco can decrease the blood supply in your mouth, resulting in a lack of blood clots after tooth extraction.
  • Mechanical: Using things like straws or rinsing your mouth aggressively immediately after tooth extraction can cause dislodgement or loss of the blood clot.
  • Physiologic: This includes things like hormones, poor blood supply, and a dense jawbone. All these factors can prevent the formation of a blood clot.

For more information on dry sockets and wisdom teeth extraction, talk to Dr. Kademani today.