Dry socket

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel


What is dry socket?

Dry socket is a painful condition following tooth extractions, such as the removal of impacted wisdom teeth. It happens when the blood clot forming over your socket is displaced; leaving bone and nerves exposed. If you develop a dry socket, the pain usually begins three to four days after your tooth is removed. If this happens, notify your dentist right away.

What are some signs and symptoms of dry socket?

After tooth extractions, you will find a dry looking opening where the tooth was pulled. When having a dry socket, there is whitish bone at the operation site instead of a dark blood clot.

Signs and symptoms of dry socket may include:

  • Severe pain within a few days after your tooth is extracted.
  • Partial or total loss of the blood clot at the tooth extraction site, which you may notice as an empty-looking (dry) socket.
  • Visible bone in the socket.
  • Pain that radiates from the socket to your ear, eye, temple or neck on the same side of your face as the extraction.
  • There is a bad breath or a foul odor that coming from your mouth.
  • You feel an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your jaw or neck.
  • Slight fever.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What should I do?

Although dry socket rarely results in infection or serious complications, getting the pain under control is a top priority. After your tooth extraction, you can help promote healing and reduce symptoms during dry pocket treatment by following your dentist’s instructions for self-care after your tooth extraction.

Some tips below may helpful for you:

  • Put cold packs on the outside of your face in the first 48 hours after extraction and warm packs after that to help decrease pain and swelling.
  • Take pain medications through a prescription of the dentist.
  • Avoid smoking or using tobacco products.
  • Drink plenty of clear liquids to remain hydrated and to prevent nausea that may be associated with some pain medications.
  • Rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water several times a day.
  • Brush your teeth gently around the dry socket area.

Keep scheduled appointments with your dentist or oral surgeon for dressing changes and other care. If your pain returns or worsens before your next scheduled appointment, call your provider.

When should I see my dentist?

A certain degree of pain and discomfort is normal after a tooth extraction. You can manage normal pain with the pain reliever prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon, and the pain should lessen with time. If you develop new or worsening pain in the days after your tooth extraction, contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.


How can I prevent dry socket?

You will receive instructions what to expect during the healing process after your tooth is extracted and how to care for the wound. These instructions can help you to prevent the pain:

  • You should plan to rest for few day after the surgery. Remember to limit rigorous exercise and sports at least a week after surgeon because that could make you dislodge the blood clot in the socket.
  • Drink lots of water after the surgery and avoid beverages containing alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages in the first 24 hours.
  • For the first day, you should eat only soft foods. If you could tolerate the pain, you could eat semi-soft foods. However, please avoiding hard chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate the wound
  • Following surgery, you may rinse your mouth, brush your teeth gently and try to avoid the extraction site. After the first 24 hours, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours while awake and after meals for a week after your surgery.
  • If you are smoking, do not do it at least 48 hours after surgery. If you chew tobacco, please do not use it for at least a week because the tobacco products after oral surgery can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: August 31, 2016 | Last Modified: November 29, 2019

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