Do you ever wonder if the compound that’s responsible for cleaning your mouth can result in causing damage instead of repair? Well, it might be just the case with hydrogen peroxide and dry sockets.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with a consistency thicker than water. Because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, you can use it in a number of household supplies.
Moreover, you can also use it for teeth and oral care. It is extremely beneficial to use, especially after any dental procedure. You can find this in pure form with different concentrations or added to products like mouthwash, toothpaste, etc.
You need to be careful while using it. It can easily become an irritant and cause dental issues like bleeding gums, dry sockets, post-surgery care, etc.
We are going to focus on the importance of hydrogen peroxide with one particular oral disease, a dry socket. Let’s see what exactly is a dry socket and whether hydrogen peroxide is beneficial or harmful to this tooth condition!
What Is a Dry Socket?
Dry Socket or alveolar osteitis occurs typically when you extract a tooth, a blood clot forms in the empty space to protect the nerve endings and bones from being exposed to the surrounding.
In cases where either the blood clot is not formed or it moves from the extraction space, it causes severe pain on the extraction site, This oral disease is known as a dry socket. This also delays the healing process post-op.
In certain severe dental issues, It is necessary to go through with tooth extraction surgeries. Your gums are extremely sensitive and highly susceptible to irritants.
This is why you must follow proper aftercare procedures to prevent infections or further oral diseases.
Signs & Symptoms
The most prominent sign is definitely the discomfort and pain itself. As you expose the gums, muscles, and nerve endings, it causes immense pain due to sensitivity. This pain will usually originate from the area of the extracted tooth to the ear, neck, and temple on the same side of the face.
Moreover, in this condition, you will notice that the area where your tooth is extracted, looks empty. Ideally, you will have a scab-like covering which is necessary to protect the inside of the extraction site while it is healing.
Further symptoms can include a bad taste in the mouth and an unpleasant odor coming from the mouth.
Although to date there isn’t a clear indication as to what causes a dry socket, experts have speculated the following causes to be the most likely reason:
- Any type of laceration or cut during the extraction of the tooth or any issue which causes stress to the extraction site.
- Bacterial infections due to lack of proper oral hygiene
- Taking contraceptive (birth control) pills
- Using a straw to drink may move the clot from the extraction site
- Being too harsh while using floss or a brush
Post-surgery is an extremely important time frame to not make the injury worse. Post-op measures are in place to ensure that no infection can make the condition more harmful. There are certain things that can irritate a tooth extraction wound like:
- Using tobacco and nicotine products can contaminate the wound.
- Birth control pills have high estrogen levels that can hinder the healing process and cause Dry socket
- If you have a history of dry sockets, you are most likely to develop one. This is why it is important to follow proper oral guidelines provided by your dentist.
- Any sort of tooth or gum infection can increase the probability of getting a dry socket.
Prevention & Treatment
Now that we have discussed the possible causes of dry sockets. There are certain precautions that you can take before and after the tooth extraction to minimize the possibility of developing a dry socket.
Before the surgery
It is important to
- Do your research and ensure the dentist has a history of successful tooth extractions
- Avoid using any products with tobacco or nicotine in them like vape, cigarettes, sheesha, etc
- Ask for a medical prescription that you can take to prep for the surgery to avoid blood clots.
The real struggle of protecting the wound begins after the surgery has been successfully completed.
- Make sure you are getting enough rest. Ideally, consult your doctor for the time frame and avoid any vigorous exercise, movements, or pressure on the jaw during that time period.
- In case of swelling and pain, use cold and hot packs and over-the-counter pain medication as prescribed.
- Be mindful of what you are drinking. Avoid straws. Drink plenty of water. Avoid any caffeinated, carbonated, or warm drinks, and alcohol.
- Only eat soft or semi-soft food. Avoid anything that is hard and will put stress on your teeth and gums.
- Oral hygiene is very important Although, for the initial 24 hours, you need to leave the extraction site as it is, after that you can use a soft bristle brush, and use mouthwash regularly to ensure there is no bacteria buildup.
Management of Dry Socket
By now we have discussed multiple ways in pre and post-surgery that are the causes of Dry sockets as well as treatment options and preventative measures.
A study was done in 2014 to study how Hydrogen Peroxide effects the dry socket issue. This answered whether it is a treatment or an Irritant for this particular type of injury
Can Hydrogen Peroxide Cause Dry Sockets?
A lot of oral hygiene products such as mouthwash and toothpaste contain a percentage of hydrogen peroxide. Most of these are used in the aftercare of a tooth extraction procedure.
This led the experts to wonder if it actually helped the dry socket issue or if it was the cause.
A study was conducted on 43 patients (18 male and 25 females) all post-op tooth extraction, experiencing some type of discomfort. Almost 30 patients had a fast recovery with less pain and discomfort within 5 days.
The difference was the addition of hydrogen peroxide to the antiseptic dressing. For 5 consecutive days, the procedure was followed, within which time it was apparent that these people were facing fewer complications.
The dry socket issue did not arise or it was cured due to its anti-microbial properties.
Scientifically, hydrogen peroxide has strong oxidizing properties. It causes bubbling and foaminess at the extraction site which in turn helps clean it properly and kill any unwanted bacteria.
Since the extraction site is no longer exposed to the outer atmosphere, the risk of contracting a dry socket diminishes greatly.
This whole process of using different liquids as mouthwash with the sole purpose of preventing bacterial diseases is medically termed as irrigation.
Even though majorly hydrogen peroxide is a beneficial compound for overall oral health it comes with its own pros and cons.
Advantages of Hydrogen Peroxide
- It has a soothing effect on a sore throat.
- Continuous usage of hydrogen peroxide can whiten the teeth.
- It can treat gum diseases due to its anti-bacterial properties.
- Because of its antiseptic properties, it can help treat sore throat, dry sockets, bleeding gum, etc
- If you ingest it, it can cause harmful side effects.
- It can be an irritant if it is not properly diluted.
- A black hairy tongue is an issue caused by excessive oxidation on the tongue. hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent and a common cause.
- Continuous use of hydrogen peroxide in higher concentrations can weaken the enamel and the gums.
Usage of Hydrogen Peroxide
You should never you hydrogen peroxide with a concentration higher than 1%. It is a highly irritable and flammable compound. Dentists suggest using it in a ready-made store-bought mouthwash as the quantity is carefully added.
Or if you do want to make it at home then dilute a 3% Hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water. You can use this mixture as a mouth wash upto 4-5 times a day. Especially after meals to effectively get rid of any and all leftover bits and pieces of food.
However, the first wash after surgery should be a saltwater wash. This will actually allow the hydrogen peroxide to more effectively interact with the teeth and the gum.
This allows you to use this concoction over a period of time as it is not that detrimental to your teeth and gums.
The Final Verdict
Hydrogen Peroxide is an agent that can actually help in the management of bacterial and infectious concerns within the mouth like dry sockets.
Although, it is important to use it properly and in the right concentrations. This way you can get the maximum benefit of an oxidizing agent like hydrogen peroxide.
Considering the fact that hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and its foamy emulsion forms a barrier on the extraction site it is not the cause of the dry socket disease.
The extraction site does not get infected because of its antimicrobial properties. As it remains clear scabs can easily form over protecting the site. Thus protecting it from dry sockets.
So, order your set and make full use of the benefits!