At the general and cosmetic dental office of Dr. Suzanne Haeri, we want all our patients’ teeth to look their best. Usually, this means preserving them and redoing old restorations. However, there are times when tooth extractions are medically necessary. In those cases, we work to ensure patients have a smooth recovery, and if they are to receive replacement teeth, they are in a good position to have them placed as soon as possible. In order to do that, we need our patients' cooperation to catch the early warning signs of a rare but serious complication, the dry socket.
When a tooth is extracted, a bit of jawbone at the base of the socket is exposed to the open air. Usually, this is not a problem, since a scab quickly seals it off. However, if the patient’s blood fails to clot, or the scab is removed prematurely, the socket will lose moisture and pathogens will be able to enter the body through it. The empty socket doesn’t usually take long to close and there is a short amount of time in which it could dry out, but if it does, the patient would be in severe pain and likely develop an infection.
Before performing an extraction, we’ll ask patients what medications they’re on so we’ll be able to predict if their blood will clot properly. After the extraction, we’ll need the patient to comply with post-surgery instructions to protect the scab. That means avoiding sucking through straws or eating anything sticky, either of which might pull the scab loose. If the scab does come off, a patient will be able to see so. They should rinse their mouth with salt water and set up an emergency appointment with us. We’ll be able to provide antibacterial medications and moisturizers to keep the socket from drying out as it continues to close over the next week.