It is well known that every single tissue in the human body can become inflamed or infected, therefor, it should be no surprise that the membrane in the jaw bone, also known as the alveolus, can also suffer. There are nerves in the alveolus, so when it becomes infected or inflamed, you will feel it. The alveolus is a spongy, porous membrane that is in and above the jawbone, and teeth are anchored in it. The condition known as alveolitis can be pretty confusing, so let me explain what it is. 

Dry Socket

The form of alveolitis that is most often encountered is dry socket. This usually occurs when there is an extraction. When a tooth is extracted, a bloodclot is formed above the extraction site. This bloodclot needs to stay in place in order to make sure that the alveolus, the periodontium and the jawbone itself can heal up. Remember, the jawbone and the surrounding tissue s are “made” in the womb, and ideally have a covering of gums and teeth above them, meaning they never see oxygen. They are simply not made to handle being exposed to air, and as such do not handle it well at all. The bloodclot forms to protect these tissues and to provide an oxygen free environment for them, so that the healing process can begin.

Removal of this bloodclot will result in damage. The alveolus will dry out, causing the tissue to be damaged, inflamed and dry. This will cause incredible pain,a s the nerve will be affected, as they become exposed to air. This is why the bloodclot should never be removed. 

Swelling Of The Alveolus

But the alveolus does not need to become exposed to get an inflammation. It is plenty enough to “just” have an infection in the region. Usually, the alveolus and the jawbone do not get infected, as there is plenty of tissue above them that isolates them and also gives bacteria a place to live. But once there are teeth missing, or the gums become damaged, or there is a case of periodontitis that is severe enough, the bacteria can find their way into the alveolus, the porous material beneath the teeth. This is a as it is an infection, it causes tooth loss, and is incredibly painful. Signs of it are swollen gums, pain in the jawbone, loosening of teeth, frequent bleeding gums and the like. The swelling comes from the fact that there is now bacteria and the antibodies that fight them in the space usually only occupied by the alveolus. 

The way to deal with this is to go to a dentist ASAP. Once there, you will have antibiotics prescribed to take care of the situation.