How to Handle a Dry Socket

What is a dry socket

If you’ve had a tooth extraction, it’s normal to experience a little discomfort, but if the pain doesn’t improve after a week or so, you might have developed a dry socket. It’s the most common complication after an extraction.

This problem can be frustrating, but it is easily fixed and prevented.

What is a Dry Socket?

A dry socket occurs when the gums of the socket (the hole left by the tooth) don’t heal properly and become inflamed. A blood clot is supposed to be formed over the treatment area to protect it and help it heal after a tooth has been removed. Sometimes, however, this clot can become dislodged or not form correctly to begin with, which leaves the jawbone and sensitive nerves in the area exposed, leading to quite a bit of uneasiness. This can happen after any kind of dental procedure, but most of the time it happens after wisdom teeth extractions. You might feel pain when chewing or even when brushing your teeth. The risk of developing a dry socket is greater if you smoke, have a high fever or are taking certain medications.

Dry Socket Symptoms

Dry Socket Symptoms

The most common sign of a dry socket is pain in and near the extraction site, but there are other symptoms a patient might experience as well:

  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath that does not improve with brushing/using a mouthwash
  • Swelling or redness in the area that lasts for more than a few days
  • Being able to see the bone under the tooth socket
  • Pain that radiates throughout the same side of the face as the extraction, possibly affecting the eye, temple, neck, and ear.

What Causes a Dry Socket?

The blood clot can be interfered with by activities like drinking with a straw, spitting, or being too physically active within 24 hours of getting an extraction. The healing process can be affected by using tobacco or chewing on the same side as the extract.

You should avoid heat during the first two days after the tooth extraction. If you are prescribed pain medicine, make sure that you use it as directed by your doctor. It is important to use the correct dosage and time frame of usage.

How to Handle a Dry Socket

What Causes a Dry Socket?


  • OTC Pain Medication: In order to get some immediate relief from the pain, you can take something like Tylenol or Advil.
  • Gently Rinse your Mouth with Saltwater: The keyword here is gently. Rinsing the area with saltwater several times a day will remove any food debris or bacteria that is causing irritation.
  • Call Your Dentist: While it is possible for a dry socket to heal on its own, this is rather risky because of the likelihood of infection, and it will take much longer than if you get professional help. Your dentist has special tools they can use to flush the area, plus they can protect it using a special medicated dressing. They can also prescribe you a pain medication that is much stronger than anything you can buy on your own, which will make the healing process much more comfortable. By closely following your dentist’s instructions, you will likely be able to fully recover from a dry socket within 7-10 days.

While having a dry socket is certainly unpleasant, it is a relatively simple problem for your dentist to handle. If you are experiencing any issues after a tooth extraction, just give us a call, and we will make the pain practically disappear before you know it.

How to Prevent a Dry Socket

Be sure to follow your dentist or oral surgeon’s instructions for post-operative care. This usually includes rinsing your mouth with salt water and avoiding smoking, spitting, swishing, or using straws for at least 48 hours after the procedure.

See Dentist For Life

Looking for an experienced and trusted dentist in Marysville, Ohio? Look no further than Dentist For Life! We provide comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. We take a wide variety of insurance plans and are currently accepting new patients. You can reach us at (937) 707-1111 or schedule your appointment online here.

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