Alveolar Osteitis, also known as Dry Socket is a dental condition that occurs in a few patients following the extraction of a tooth. Put simply, the socket is the hole where the tooth once was. It is in the bone in which teeth are set. After extraction the body naturally forms a blood clot in the area where the tooth was. This is to protect the bone and nerves during the healing process. If this becomes dislodged – or sometimes it can dissolve – it exposes the nerves and the bone to all that goes into the mouth. This leads to Dry Socket, which can be very painful and last several days.
Dry Socket usually occurs 3-5 days after tooth extraction and causes severe throbbing and radiating pain which is difficult to localize. It is characterized by detritus, grayish slough, severe pain and foul odor. The foul odor, in particular is a result of the disintegration of the blood clot by putrefaction rather than by orderly resorption. If a probe is gently passed in the tooth extraction socket, then bare bone is encountered which is very sensitive.
The pain from Alveolar Osteitis usually lasts for 24-72 hours. There is no real treatment for Alveolar Osteitis, it is a self-limiting condition that will improve and disappear with time, but certain interventions can significantly pain during an episode of Alveolar Osteitis. These interventions usually consists of a gentle rinsing of the inflamed socket followed by the direct placement within the socket of some type of sedative dressing which soothes the inflamed bone for a period of time and promotes tissue growth which is done without anesthesia.