What's the Difference Between Normal Extraction Pain and a Dry Socket?

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While pain relief may make your tooth extraction a painless procedure nowadays, you're likely to suffer from some discomfort once the anaesthetic wears off.  While most people don't suffer too much, others may go on to develop a dry socket issue. How can you identify whether your pain is normal or whether it is linked to a dry socket?

Normal Extraction Symptoms

Typically, your extraction site will start to hurt once your local anaesthetic wears off a few hours after you've had your tooth out. This pain may feel quite bad and may also involve discomfort from the anaesthetic. However, you can usually manage any pain or discomfort by taking any medications recommended by your dentist such as painkillers or antibiotics.

Typically, you should notice an incremental improvement in pain or swelling starting the day or so after you have had the tooth extracted. Your gum and mouth may continue to feel sore for a few days; however, you should feel that they are getting better little by little every day.

Dry Socket Symptoms

Sometimes, a tooth extraction may cause a condition known as dry socket. Typically, when you have a tooth taken out, a blood clot forms in the hole. This helps the extraction site heal. If a clot fails to form or falls out, you essentially have a hole with no stopper to protect it. According to healthdirect, this may expose your gum bone and nerve, potentially causing you a lot of pain.

You may have a dry socket rather than regular extraction pain if you notice the following symptoms:

  • A new pain that develops a few days after you've had the tooth removed. The pain may be much worse than before and it may spread to other areas of your face on the side of the extraction site.
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
  • An increased temperature.

Also, if you can look into the extraction site, can't see a blood clot and can see down to the bone, then you may well have a dry socket problem.

What If You Have a Dry Socket?

If you suspect you have a dry socket, you should contact your dentist for emergency dental help as soon as you can, according to Colgate Australia. Your pain is likely to be fairly bad but can be relieved quite quickly. Typically, your dentist will wash out the extraction site and place a medicated pad in it to help it heal. You may need to have this pad changed over the course of a few visits until the problem is sorted out.

Tip: To avoid developing problems like dry socket after a tooth extraction, it's important to follow your dentist's after-care advice. For example, you may increase the chances of developing a dry socket if you smoke or don't take good care of the wound site.