Dry socket is a condition professionally referred to as “alveolar osteitis”, and it is one of the possible complications that can occur after a tooth is extracted. It is actually a fairly rare condition, with only 20% of wisdom tooth removal patients experiencing this condition. Despite it being uncommon, there are often questions about dry socket.

What is dry socket?
After a tooth has been removed, a blot blood forms in the space. This is the first step in healing, and it protects the jawbone underneath. If this clot is lost, or if it does not form, the bone can be exposed, and healing is delayed.

Symptoms of this occurrence include steady, throbbing pain 2-4 days after tooth extraction that may radiate to other parts of the head, bad breath, and a foul taste in the mouth.

What are typical causes of dry socket?

  • Bacterial infections that exist in the mouth, such as periodontitis, can prevent the proper formation of a clot, or can cause the breakdown of the clot.
  • Smoking can cause a decrease of blood supply in the mouth. As a result, the blood clot may fail to form.
  • Sucking through a straw, aggressive rinsing/spitting, or inhaling on a cigarette can cause the blood clot to dislodge and fall out.

How is dry socket treated?
Contact our office if you think that you are experiencing dry socket. We will gently irrigate the area to clean it, then pack it with a medicated dressing that usually provides immediate relief. Over the counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can also help to relieve the pain. Your comfort and safety are of primary importance to our OMS practice.

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