Osteitis, also known as 'dry socket' is amongst the most common problems which occurs due to a tooth extraction. It happens in about 5% of all tooth extractions and can be quite uncomfortable. Luckily, it's easily remedied.

Symptoms of Osteitis

A dry socket is any socket in which you feel pain and discomfort. This usually occurs due to the loss of the blood clot, leaving the bone exposed to air, fluids and food. Dry sockets often produce a bad smell which is typically noticed a couple of days after extraction and can last up to a week. Although most patients will experience some discomfort and pain after an extraction, this should dissipate quickly. A dry socket occurs when the blood clot is somehow dislodged from it's place leaving the nerve endings and bones vulnerable. Blood clots have a number of functions such as limiting the bleeding in the affected site and promoting the growth of new bone and tissue in the area. Dry sockets often occur when wisdom teeth or teeth at the back of the mouth are involved due to poor circulation in this area.

Causes of Dry Socket

There's several factors which are likely to increase the chances of you developing a dry socket. One of the most common factors leading to a dry socket is smoking before the time which your dentist has recommended following extraction. Smoking affects the blood supply to the clot and carries a number of toxic products which can affect the healing process. The sucking motion when smoking can cause a difference in pressure which can also dislodge the blood clot. Research has also shown women taking oral contraceptives are at an increased risk of developing a dry socket. It's important to follow all aftercare instructions given to you by your dentist to ensure quick and effective healing.

Preventing Osteitis

There's several ways that you can help to prevent the development of a dry socket. Firstly it's vital to avoid smoking before the time your dentist recommends as this can cause a number of problems. Research has shown oral contraceptives and the menstrual cycle can put women at an increased risk so it's commonly advised for women patients to schedule their extraction during the last two weeks of their menstrual cycle. Rinsing your mouth out frequently and drinking through a straw can both cause problems with the blood clot and it's often recommended to avoid chewing on the affected side of your mouth following extraction.