Dry socket is an extremely painful complication after a tooth extraction, especially when removing impacted lower wisdom teeth. The chances for it occurring, increases significantly for the latter situation.
We can guess what you’re thinking, “Do stitches prevent dry socket?”
Unfortunately, you can still get a dry socket even with stitches because having sutures do not prevent it from occurring.
You can get dry socket with stitches
While the exact cause of dry socket has yet to be determined, what we do know is that it is a biological process and not a mechanical one. In other words, you can still get dry socket even with sutures placed over the extraction site.
The very definition of a dry socket is the failure of a blood clot to form thus leaving the jaw bone in the socket exposed. A lot of people have this misconception that if you mechanically dislodge the blood clot you will end up the condition. However that is false.
Ways to mechanically dislodge a blood clot after an extraction:
As it turns out, none of the ways listed above will give you a dry socket by making the blood clot fall out. Although smoking can increase the chances of getting it but it is through other means and not from dislodging the clot. The only thing that happens afterwards is continued bleeding from the socket.
The main reason as to why they do not cause it, is because the condition is NOT mechanically induced. It is a result of a biological process that is separate from you accidentally removing your clot.
Basically what we’re trying to tell you is that getting stitches after the extraction is a mechanical process whose purpose is to help the clot stay in.
- It has zero effect on any biological processes that are happening inside of the socket.
- Therefore the presence of sutures has no overbearing effect on you getting a dry socket.
In summary, getting your extraction hole stitched up does not prevent you from getting a dry socket.
What about with a bone graft?
Stitches are often necessary if you’ve gotten a bone graft after your extraction. Unfortunately even with the graft you can still get a dry socket. Studies have demonstrated that it is possible so the grafting material has no effect on it’s prevention.
How to tell if you’ve dry socket
The two tell-tale signs of the condition are excruciating pain and exposed jaw bone. Although there are other symptoms as well.
Signs & Symptoms:
- Severe pain. Throbbing pain that shows up after 24-96 hours after the extraction.
- Missing blood clot. There is no blood clot in the tooth socket.
- Lack of blood. The socket doesn’t bleed or have a lot of blood.
- Exposed bone. Due to lack of blood clot, you can visibly see the jaw bone.
- Bad breath. Food can get stuck in the hole and cause bad breath.
- Unpleasant taste. Bad taste in your mouth.
- Delayed healing. The surgical site will heal and close very slowly.
If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your dentist for a follow up appointment.
How to treat it
There is no cure for dry socket because the scientific community does not even know what causes it. However what your dentist can do for you is offer palliative treatment which can reduce the amount of pain. They may also attempt experimental procedures in hopes of expediting the healing process.
- Induce socket bleeding. Drill holes into the socket bone to restart the healing.
- Curettage and irrigation. Clean out the inside of the tooth socket and flush it out.
- Dry socket paste. Place a special medicated eugenol paste inside of the socket which can soothe and help alleviate pain. The dry socket paste is typically left inside of the hole for 3-5 days. It does not need to be removed since it gets washed out all on its own during the healing process.
- Mouth rinse. Frequently rinsing with salt water can keep the site clean and free of debris.
- Pain medication. Alveolar osteitis is painful and what better way to alleviate pain than to take pain medication. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or even opioids can help reduce pain.
How to prevent it
There isn’t a cure but there are certain risk factors which may increase the chances of getting it. Therefore if you minimize these activities you may be able to prevent dry socket or at least reduce your chances of getting it.
- Smoking. Studies have shown that smokers (12%) are 3 times more likely to get it when compared to non-smokers (4%).
- Traumatic extraction. Particularly difficult surgical extractions can increase the incidences of it. This is particularly true for the severely impacted lower wisdom teeth.
- Birth control. Studies have shown that the incidence of alveolar osteitis was significantly higher for women using birth control. If you’re on it, you may want to be extra cautious.
- Middle of Menstrual cycle. In addition to taking birth control, researchers also found that women during the middle of a menstrual cycle were more likely to get it.
- Prior history. If you’ve a history of getting it in the past, that makes you more prone.
- Salt water rinsing. Rinsing with salt water can help prevent the incidence of it.
Proper self care for this condition involves doing things which help recover and minimizing activities which delays it.
Yes, you can get a dry socket even if your dentist puts stitches after your extraction. Stitching up the tooth removal hole does not prevent you from getting it nor does it decrease it’s possibility.
Ultimately it has no effect whatsoever so don’t worry if your dentist didn’t give you stitches.
What you should be more concerned about are the actual risk factors which may increase the incidence of the condition such as smoking. It would serve you well to focus on minimizing these factors if you want to avoid getting this painful dental condition!
Nonetheless, if you happen to be unfortunate and get it, you should contact your dentist immediately. They do have options for how you can alleviate some of the pain. Don’t bother with the home remedies since they’ll do zilch for it!