Those who have had a tooth removed may experience a dry socket. These can be painful and it could be difficult to know what to do. Yet, there are ways to treat a dry socket and most of them can be done at home.
Dry sockets are a higher risk for smokers, those who take oral birth control, and those who fail to do as the dentist recommends for wound care after the extraction.
What Is a Dry Socket?
Clotting blood is important to wound healing. A dry socket happens when the blood clot at the site of the pulled tooth either never develops, dissolves, or dislodges before the wound has healed.
This can cause severe pain that can radiate to other parts of your body including your eye, neck, temple, or ear. You may see an empty socket or even see the bone in the socket. Another symptom is bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
Dry sockets are often the symptom of other things like a bacterial infection or trauma at the wound. They can also be the result of complicated surgery, like removing an impacted wisdom tooth.
You will want to inform your dentist or surgeon if you have a dry socket. You will likely need to go back into the office for an exam to make sure the area is healing properly.
This is particularly true if you have other health issues or are on blood thinners or aspirin therapy. That will prevent your blood from properly clotting.
There are six solid home remedies you can try to end the pain and help your dry socket heal. These are safe remedies that use things you may already have in your cupboard.
You can ask your dentist or surgeon about the effectiveness of each but how well they work may depend on your preference and pain level.
Using cold and heat therapy can reduce swelling immediately after surgery. Cold packs are recommended to use for the first 24 hours after having a tooth pulled. Put the pack against your face for 15 minutes at a time.
The cold helps numb nerves in your mouth.
Follow that with warm washcloths to reduce pain. Heat usually soothes pain. Dentists will always tell you to use warm and not hot washcloths. Place it against your cheek when you feel pain.
It may take several hours to see a reduction in swelling but the compresses will make that process move a little faster.
Some people find that one works better than the other for them so try both and use the method that gives you the most relief.
Rinse with Warm Salt Water
Your surgeon will usually tell you to rinse your mouth with warm salt water multiple times a day even though they will also give you pain medication. Warm salt water help rid your mouth of bacteria and prevents infections.
Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. You can use it to flush out the dry socket with a syringe given to you by your surgeon or swish it around in your mouth. You should do this after meals.
The warm water will instantly soothe your sore, dry socket. Doing a mouth rinse will help keep debris out of it too.
Cloves or clove oil are also known to relieve tooth pain and pain from a dry socket. It has been a standard remedy for families for well over a century.
Cloves have eugenol, an anti-inflammatory that also has antibacterial properties. You can chew on a clove, put clove oil on a sterile gauze and apply it to your dry socket or buy a professional dry socket paste that has clove oil.
The one caution about clove oil is it may have side effects that could leave your gums sore or swollen. It can also cause a skin rash. It’s best to talk to your dentist or surgeon before trying this remedy.
Cloves are strong so their effects of them may depend on how much you use. In this case, less is more.
Those worried about the side effects of cloves can try honey. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Honey can prevent further infection and reduce pain, according to a 2014 study.
Honey is a popular remedy for many things including indigestion so it’s wise to keep some in your cabinet.
One aspect of using honey, or any of these types of products, is to make sure it’s natural, raw honey. Mass-produced, commercial honey has sugar and other things in it that won’t make it as effective as the natural, raw versions.
Put raw honey on sterile gauze. Place the gauze on the infected area and keep it there for a while to get the maximum benefit. You will need to change it every few hours if you use it consistently.
Honey treatments are one of the few home remedies you can use long-term on your dry socket without any ill effects.
Tea Tree Oil
Three items in the tea group can offer relief to a dry socket. Tea tree oil is a popular item for many ailments because it is both an antiseptic and an antibacterial substance.
Use only pure tea tree oil for pain relief in a dry socket as many products contain it but aren’t the pure substance.
It is a strong substance so some mix a drop with honey or black tea before applying it to a sterile gauze and placing it on the socket.
The secret ingredient in black tea is tannic acid. This is a natural antibacterial agent that can reduce both pain and swelling.
Steep the tea bag in boiling water for five minutes. Remove and squeeze out excess water and let it cool. It’s advised to turn it into a cold compress by putting it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Don’t put it in the freezer.
Now put the tea bag over the socket and bite down to keep it in place for 15 minutes. You can use the cooled team to rinse your mouth out afterward for even more relief.
Other home remedies can be effective. Oregano oil has been known to fight drug-resistant bacteria and chamomile tea can offer some of the same relief that black tea does.
You can put oregano oil on a sterile gauze and apply it to the sore area like the other home remedies. The chamomile tea bag can be used the same as the black tea bag as a cold compress. Plus, chamomile may help you sleep. You can also find over-the-counter pain relief drugs like ibuprofen that are effective in relieving pain and swelling. They don’t help reduce or prevent infections but can offer some relief until you see your doctor.
Seeing Your Dentist
Ultimately, these home remedies are meant to provide relief until you can see your dentist or surgeon about your dry socket. You will want a medical professional to address any infections or improper wound healing.
However, you shouldn’t suffer until you make it to your dental appointment. These remedies are safe and effective.
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