How Long Does it take to recover from dry socket?
It takes anywhere between 3 weeks to 6 months before your body fully recovers from a dry socket. However, if you have had one or two previous episodes of dry sockets, then your recovery could be faster than others. If you are still worried about getting back into work after having a few days off, then consult with a doctor first.
Dry socket is caused by a tear in the membrane covering the opening of your airway. The damage is usually not very deep and there are various treatments available to repair it. The most common treatment involves taking out part of the wall of your airway so that it heals over again. This procedure may cause some pain but it is much less painful than a full operation which would involve removing all the walls around your airways and replacing them with metal ones (see below).
The following table shows the approximate recovery times:
Time Recovery Time 1 week 2 weeks 3 weeks 4 weeks 5 weeks 6 months 7 months 8 months 9 months 10 Months 11 Months 12 Months 13 Months 14 Months 15 Months 16 months 17 months 18months 19months 20months 21months 22months 23month 24 month 25 month 26 month 27 month 28 month 29 month 30 Month 31 Month 32 Month 33 Month 34 Month 35 Month 36 Month 37 Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Weeks 16 Weeks 17 Weeks 18 Weeks 19 Weeks 20 Weeks 21 Weeks 22 Weeks 23 Weeks 24 Weeks 25 Weeks 26 Weeks 27 Week 28 Weeks 29 Weeks 30 Weeks 31 Weeks 32 Weeks 33 Weeks 34 Week 35 Week 36 Week 37
How long are you at risk of getting dry socket?
There is a risk of dry socket for up to 3 weeks after your tooth has been pulled. After this time it is considered that the tear in the lining of your airway has healed. The following table shows the time risk:
Time There is a Risk of Dry socket After 3 Weeks 0-3 Weeks 4 Weeks 5 Weeks 6 Weeks 7 Weeks 8 Weeks 9 Weeks 10 Weeks 11 Weeks 12 Weeks
How long does dry socket last untreated?
Dry socket can be successfully treated with medication. These include local anesthetics and antibiotics to prevent infection. If you are experiencing pain in the socket which persists for over 48 hours, then you should seek medical advice. Do not assume that it is normal to be in pain in the socket as it may well mean that you are developing a dry socket.
How long does dry socket treatment take?
The length of time that the treatment for dry socket takes depends on the type of treatment that you opt for and also your personal healing time. Some people are able to heal extremely quickly while others may take slightly longer.
How long does dry socket last?
If you have had a dry socket, then it is important that you are seen by your dentist as soon as possible because it can cause further complications.
It is also worth noting the cause of your dry socket – was it an infected tooth?
If so, then make sure that you get treatment for the infection or it may come back.
You can find out more about dry socket here.
What are the causes of dry socket?
There are various reasons for your dry socket to occur:
1. Fractured Tooth or a loose filling
If your tooth has been fractured or has a loose or cracked filling then it is more likely that the membrane covering the roots of your tooth will be damaged when the tooth is pulled. This damage can cause dry socket to develop.
2. Inadequate local anaesthesia
If your dentist or hygienist does not apply the local enough or for long enough then you may still be conscious during the tooth being pulled and the surrounding soft tissue being stretched. This can cause dry socket to develop.
3. Halitosis (Bad Breath)
If you suffer from bad breath (halitosis) then it is possible that food gets stuck in your teeth and drains onto the delicate membrane around your tooth roots. This can cause an infection which can then lead to dry socket.
What are the symptoms of dry socket?
The symptoms of dry socket are as follows:
1. Pain in the Socket
The most common symptom of dry socket is pain in the area where your tooth used to be. This pain is generally constant and can be dull or sharp as the infection takes hold. The pain can also spread to your ear if you have an infection spreading through your jaw bone.
2. Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
You may experience a heightened sensitivity to hot and cold in the socket area. Certain foods and drinks, as well as simply breathing in cold air can be painful.
3. Metallic taste in mouth
There may be a slightly metallic taste in your mouth which doesn’t usually occur for you. This is due to bacteria breaking down the blood and tissue in your socket.
Your socket area may experience some swelling due to the infection. The swelling will generally be in your cheeks and the area around your jaw and neck may also become sore.
5. Tooth abscess
Your tooth socket may become abscessed which means that the infection from the dry socket has spread under your skin and into the tissues around your face. You will generally experience a high temperature and a lot of pain in this area, which does not settle easily.
6. Loss of Jaw bone
In extreme cases, the infection can spread through your jaw bone leading to necrosis (the death) of the bone tissue. This can be extremely painful and cause difficulty when eating or speaking. If left untreated, it can also lead to the loss of your jaw bone – requiring surgical intervention to replace it with a false one.
How is dry socket diagnosed?
Your dentist or doctor will ask you about your medical history and give a physical examination of your teeth and gums before contacting a dental specialist (a periodontist).
Tests that may be carried out include:
1. Taking an X-ray of the area to see whether the abscess has spread to any other parts of your jaw or skull.
2. Taking a biopsy of the bone or abscess to confirm whether it is a dry socket and what germ is causing it.
3. Amoxicillin or clindamycin may be prescribed by your doctor for at least 10 days to 2 weeks in order to treat the infection.
What is the treatment for dry socket?
The treatment for dry socket depends on the cause and seriousness of the condition. It may include the following:
1. Antibiotics for infection
Your dentist or GP will prescribe an antibiotic for you which you will have to take regularly for at least ten days to two weeks.
You should also follow the advice of your dentist or doctor.
2. Pain Relief
Your dentist or physician may also prescribe painkillers such as codeine to help with the pain. Take these as directed to get relief as soon as possible.
3. Socket Preservation
Your dentist may try to remove the dead bone from your socket to help the healing process.
4. Dressing change
Your dentist may also drain any collection of pus or blood and put in a temporary dressing until the socket heals. The dressing is usually replaced every 48 hours.
5. Tooth Extraction
In some cases, your dentist may recommend that your tooth be extracted if the dry socket is not healing or you have repeat occurrences.
How can dry socket be prevented?
Following a few steps can help you avoid getting a dry socket:
1. Replace your dentist prescribed dental dam or dressing if it becomes too soiled or begins to break down.
Damaged dressings can lead to infection.
2. Do not put anything into your mouth when you have a dry socket.
3. Do not rasp or file down your teeth while you have a dry socket as this can lead to other tooth problems in future.
4. Take the antibiotic that your dentist has given you for 10 days to 2 weeks as directed.
Stopping early can make the infection worse.
5. Do not smoke as this causes further blood vessel and cell damage which can worsen your dry socket.
6. Take pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed.
Never take these medicines longer than 3-4 days as this can lead to liver or kidney damage.
7. Rest the jaw for a few days so it can heal completely.
8. After the socket has healed, maintain good dental hygiene to avoid repeat occurrences of dry socket or other tooth problems.
What is the outcome of dry socket?
Dry socket usually heals within a couple of weeks or so with proper care. It can be extremely painful in the meantime, although taking painkillers can help with this. You should also drink plenty of water to keep your mouth and throat from getting too dry and aiding the healing process.
Dry socket rarely, if ever, becomes a permanent toothache or returns. It may feel slightly tender for a couple of weeks after healing but this feeling usually goes away with time.
You can prevent dry socket from recurring by taking good care of your teeth and gums on a regular basis. Tooth and gum disease are the main risk factors for dry socket. These diseases cause the bone that holds your teeth in place to weaken and become more prone to fracture.
The best way to prevent dry socket is to practice good dental hygiene on a regular basis such as regular toothbrushing, flossing, and routine dental checkups and cleanings.
If you have had dry socket before, your dentist may recommend that you take a small dose of an antibiotic as prophylactic (preventative) measure before any dental work.
Last revised: December 13, 2012
by Natasha Anderson, M.D.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Coronectomy vs. Total Removal for Third Molar Extraction: A Systematic Review by H Long, Y Zhou, L Liao, U Pyakurel… – Journal of dental …, 2012 – journals.sagepub.com
Clinical concepts of dry socket by CL Cardoso, MTV Rodrigues, OF Júnior… – Journal of Oral and …, 2010 – Elsevier
Coronectomy in patients with high risk of inferior alveolar nerve injury diagnosed by computed tomography by U Cilasun, T Yildirim, E Guzeldemir… – Journal of oral and …, 2011 – Elsevier
Mandibular third molar removal: risk indicators for extended operation time, postoperative pain, and complications by IS Benediktsdóttir, A Wenzel, JK Petersen… – Oral Surgery, Oral …, 2004 – Elsevier
Do systemic antibiotics prevent dry socket and infection after third molar extraction? A systematic review and meta-analysis by E Ramos, J Santamaría, G Santamaría… – Oral surgery, oral …, 2016 – Elsevier
Dental extraction wound management: a case against medicating postextraction sockets by RE Alexander – Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 2000 – joms.org