Does getting a tooth pulled hurt? Not at first, actually, because you will be numbed-up from the anesthetic that the Dentist gives you. Tooth extraction pain can come later, however, as the gap that once housed your pearly white starts healing up. So, what can you do to quell the pain that comes after? We're glad that you asked!
Getting a tooth pulled is never fun but sometimes necessary. Proper care afterwards is required to ensure that you don't suffer a condition known as dry socket. Never heard of it? Well, dry socket is a condition where the blood doesn't clot after the extraction of an adult tooth, or when the clot develops but becomes dislodged. This leaves the nerves exposed and can be quite unpleasant, to say the least. You'll be happy to know that this pain after tooth extraction can be easily avoided with a little understanding the causes of dry socket.
Causes of dry socket
What causes dry socket? There are primarily five factors that can lead to dry socket.
- Smoking: The Dentist will generally warn you against smoking after a tooth extraction. The reason is not because he or she thinks that it's a yukky habit and that you should quit it(why would they? Cleaning those stains is part of the business model!). The reason is that smoking lowers the blood supply in your mouth, which can prevent clots from forming properly. So if you just got a tooth extracted, lay off the ciggies for the rest of the day if you can. Dry socket is no party.
- Bacteria: Pre-existing infections can cause dry socket, as certain types of oral bacteria can prevent a clot from forming properly. Mouthwash will sting but it can help.
- Physical: Sucking on a straw or rinsing too aggressively with that mouthwash we talked about can dislodge a forming clot as well, so be careful. Skip the straws for awhile or use them very, very carefully so that you don't dislodge the clot.
- Hormones: Not a lot that you can do about these but hormones can be a factor in the efficacy of clot formation.
- Age: If you are over 30 then you are at greater risk for dry socket. Unless you have access to the fountain of youth, this is another factor that you can't really do much about.
“Dry socket is no walk in the park.”
How to know if you have dry socket
So how do you know if you have dry socket? Dry socket manifests a few days after getting your tool pulled as a throbbing pain in the extraction site. Sometimes in the more extreme cases, the pain can extend to your head and your ears. Ouch! Now just because there is a little pain after extraction this isn't necessarily a sign of dry socket. A little pain is to be expected during the healing process. That said, if the pain doesn't begin to lessen over the next few days but instead grows more acute, dry socket is very likely the culprit. Other signs that you can see in the mirror sometimes are an exposed jawbone in the site of the extraction or grey gum tissue. If left untreated... well, dry socket WILL generally heal on its own but frankly, it's gonna hurt.
Home remedies for dry socket
Seeing a Dentist is recommended in the case of dry socket, but if you can't, there are a few home remedies that you may employ to help ease the pain as the dry socket heals. If you are experiencing pain from dry socket, try one of these methods to get a little relief:
- Anti-inflammatory medicine - Ibuprofen is a great example of something that you can take to help reduce the pain and swelling that can occur in a nasty case of dry socket and it's something that you'll likely have on hand.
- Honey - Honey has antibacterial properties and is said to help sooth pain and swelling as well. Soak some gauze in honey and apply it to the spot(gently, now, you don't want to make things worse). Do this 2 or 3 times a day and you should be quickly and deliciously on your way to healing.
- Salt water rinse - Add half a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of water. Use this to rinse 3 times a day and you can reduce the swelling. Salt also reduces the bacteria in your mouth as well, so this quick and simple remedy is nothing to sneeze about.
- Aloe vera - Applying Aloe vera can increase the speed of dry socket healing, as well as prevent it from happening in the first place if applied after extraction. Apply with a bit of gauze and reap the benefits that Aloe can provide.
- Turmeric and mustard oil - While not very tasty, a mixture of powdered turmeric and mustard oil can be used. This combination has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce some of the pain as well while you are healing. Not too shabby for a couple of condiments.
- Black Tea - This is a traditional home remedy that you can employ quite easily. Simply steep the teabag for a few minutes, then remove it from the water and let it cool. Once it cools off, put it in your mouth for awhile over the dry socket and let the tea work it's magic. The mighty Black Tea has anti-inflammatory properties and it is also good for pain and as an antibacterial agent. Yay, tea!
Does it hurt to get a tooth pulled? Yup, but now you are prepared to minimize that pain and to prevent or treat dry socket if it comes along. Use these tips when you can't(or won't) consider going back to the Dentist. Dry socket is no walk in the park but it's a lot less frightening when you are prepared to deal with it. It's all about what you know! Keep brushing your teeth to avoid extractions in the first place and we'll see you next time!