How to Prevent a Dry Socket?

When having a tooth extracted, it is important to know the after care steps you can take to avoid unnecessary pain following your extraction.  If the correct after care steps are not taken, you could develop a dry socket.  Tooth extraction pain should only last a few days, in most cases.  If the pain does not go away within four days or it begins to intensify, you could have a dry socket.  We believe it is important to point out that only 2% to 5% of people develop a dry socket after a tooth extraction.  However, for those that do experience this, it can be uncomfortable.



After a tooth has been removed, there will be a hole in the bone.  This is called a socket.  Once the tooth is extracted, you will form a blood clot in the socket to protect the bone and nerves.  There are times when the clot can become dislodged or dissolve after a couple of days post extraction.  If this happens, that leaves the bone and nerve exposed to air, food, fluid, and anything else that goes into the mouth.  This is called a dry socket.  Dry socket’s can lead to an infection, and the pain can last for 5 to 6 days.


Here are a few things that will increase your chances of developing a dry socket:

  • Smoking
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
  • Tooth extraction (Specifically Wisdom Teeth)
  • Trauma during a tooth extraction

Drinking through a straw, spitting, or over rinsing can also raise your risk of getting a dry socket.


If you have a dry socket, you can experience foul odor and foul taste.  You will also no longer see the dark blood clot in the socket.  When drinking water, you will have a sharp pain at the extraction site.  All of these things are signs that you have a dry socket.


In some cases, Advil or another pain reliever of choice can reduce the pain.   If this is not the case for you, your dentist can clean out the tooth socket, using a syringe and getting any food or debris out of the socket.  Your dentist may also be able to fill the socket with a medication dressing or paste to help block anything else from getting into the extraction site.  In extreme cases, you may need to return to your dentist multiple times until the healing process takes place, and your pain lessens.  Antibiotics can also be given, to prevent any infections.

If you believe you have a dry socket following your tooth extraction, please call your dentist.

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