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Dry Socket: Common Causes and Risk Factors

Dentists typically describe “dry socket” as a post-operative condition that negatively affects the healing process following tooth extraction. To understand what increases an individual’s chances of experiencing this condition, here is an insight into some of the most common risk factors associated with this post-operative complication.

Ignoring the importance of post-operative dental advice

This is the most common reason why many patients are at greater risk of experiencing the condition. Following a tooth extraction, patients are typically advised to place biting pressure on the gauze packing covering the site of extraction for at least a minute. If not done properly, the tooth’s socket will not be able to develop a proper blood clot.

Also, patients are advised to ensure blood clot protection as well. Ideally, patients should avoid smoking, alcohol and hot beverage consumption while reducing physical stress for at least a day or two. Ignoring the dentist’s instructions may cause the clot to dissolve, which eventually results in the formation of a dry socket.

Patient’s Dental History

Some patients are at a higher risk of experiencing this condition because they have a history of post-extraction complications. But this has more to do with whether the patient followed his/her dentist’s advice in previous cases of tooth extractions or not. While a patient has more chances of experiencing the condition because of past extraction-related complications, strictly following the dentist’s advice and consulting an experienced dentist can minimize the risk.

Location of the Tooth

The chances of experiencing this condition also have a connection with “tooth location”. In most cases, extraction of lower teeth increases the chances of developing this complication as compared to upper tooth extraction. Similarly, if the dentist extracts back teeth or molars, the patient is at higher risk of experiencing this problem as compared to front tooth extraction. Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common examples of how “sensitive tooth location” can increase the chances of dry socket formation.

Tooth Extraction and Dry Socket

According to dental experts, tissue trauma resulting from tooth extraction is also linked with chances of experiencing a dry socket. Basically, the extraction process leads to bone tissue trauma, which is accompanied by a release of compounds that tend to diffuse into the newly-formed blood clot. The release of these compounds can lead to blood clot disintegration and dry socket formation.

Depending on the patient’s history and type of tooth damage, dentists may or may not predict the extent of surgical trauma following the extraction procedure. In some cases, dentists are fully aware of the fact that a tooth extraction will result in a significant amount of tissue trauma. But in other cases, dentists initiate the process normally but experience difficulty in the middle of the process, which can lead to post-operative complications like formation of a dry socket. Therefore, it is extremely important to consult an experienced dentist for dental procedures like tooth extractions.