The odds of having a dry socket cannot be given in percentage amounts because depending on the individual case, there could be several contributing factors. With that said, people who are reasonably healthy... take little to no medications that compromise the immune system or decrease the salivary flow... do not smoke ... do not drink alcohol during the healing phase.... follow a healthy diet post operatively... and follow the post op instructions... rarely develop a dry socket. Sometimes the condition develops because the surgeon was a bit lax in cleaning out the socket and/or didn't achieve a healthy amount of blood to create a good size clot.
I always suggest that the patient be the one to bring up the subject of dry socket and make it clear that they are concerned about it and want every precaution taken to avoid getting one. In doing this, the patient feels empowered by making their concerns known ahead of time and the surgeon knows the patient has done their homework!
If you should develop a dry socket, do not wait to get it treated. The earlier the treatment, the faster it heals. After a tooth extraction, the first and second day you feel sore, a bit swollen and just tired. By the third day into the fourth the surgical site should be feeling much better. If it starts to become painful after it felt better, then see your surgeon asap.
Some people have a good amount of pain with a dry socket.... others have very little. Generally the acute pain of a dry socket eases up when it is treated, then comes back a little less painful and is treated again.... this may happen 2-4 times. The lengthy "pain" that you have read about can occur in people who did not seek treatment right away or were told they didn't need treatment... or have other contributing factors that decrease their healing ability. Pain can also occur in the TMJ area which can linger for weeks/months, especially in people who already have TMJ problems. That's why it's a good idea to tell the surgeon if you have TMJ problems prior to the surgery.
It is difficult to anticipate the what if's... but as I said, most people do not have long term pain or complications after wisdom tooth removal.
Try not to be too scared.... I understand how you feel... been there, done that and look... I'm okay
Originally Posted by NervousMess
Thank you so much Bryanna for your reply, and I will certainly discuss the comparative risks of leaving the tooth (from what you've said, I'm guessing the OS will almost certainly refuse).
That said, developing dry socket terrifies me. I suppose there's no way to know the "odds", but at 38 years with an impacted lower wisdom tooth, would you estimate the chances at at least below 50%? Failing that, what are the chances of coping with such pain for possibly weeks/months? From what I surmise it's the sort of thing that could drive people far more tolerant than I to shoot themselves.