What is Dry Socket?


Pain After Tooth Extraction O'Fallon ILDry socket is a very painful dental condition that you won’t have to worry about until you get a tooth extracted. In fact, wisdom teeth extraction is one of the most common procedures associated with dry socket. While you will certainly be given a list of instructions for avoiding dry socket after tooth removal, it is important to understand exactly what the condition entails and the risks involved.

While most extraction procedures involve a simple oral surgery and smooth recovery, they do pose the risk of dry socket. Dry socket, also called alveolar osteitis, is a condition that can develop if the blood clot after tooth removal does not form or gets disturbed. This can create significant pain for the patient. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this as well as treat dry socket if the condition occurs.

Why is a blood clot so important?

When a tooth root is extracted from the underlying bone and gum, it leaves an empty socket. Your body responds by forming a blood clot in the socket to protect the bone and exposed nerves. The clot also serves to support healing by encouraging the growth of new soft tissue and bone. If the clot fails to form or if something happens to knock the blood clot loose, dry socket is often diagnosed.

Why does dry socket hurt?

Without a blood clot to fill and protect the empty socket where your tooth once lived, the nerves of the socket are left exposed. Tooth nerves can be incredibly painful when exposed to hot, cold and other elements. If you experience a sudden increase in your pain level a few days after your oral surgery, dry socket is a likely culprit. You may also suffer from a low fever, bad breath and/or swollen lymph nodes. If you suspect that you have dry socket, it is important that you see your dentist right away.

What Increases Your Risk for Dry Socket

Though dry socket is a clear warning for patients after tooth extraction, it is still a rare condition that only affects about 10% of patients. However, there are certain habits, medications and lifestyle choices that can increase your risk for developing dry socket, including the following:

  • Pre-existing infection
  • Poor oral hygiene before and after surgery
  • Certain medications, such as hormonal contraceptives and corticosteroids
  • Smoking
  • Using a straw too soon
  • Irrigating (cleaning) the socket too soon
  • Participating in strenuous activity too soon

Dry Socket Treatment

At Soft Touch Dentistry, we understand how to care for patients before, during and after wisdom teeth removal. This includes helping patients prevent dry socket as well as treating it should the condition develop. First and foremost, we can get you out of pain. It may be necessary to thoroughly clean the socket to remove stuck food, bacteria or debris. Next, we can pack the socket with medicated dressings to ease your discomfort and accelerate healing.

For more information on how to prevent and treat dry socket after tooth removal, please contact Dr. Thompson at Soft Touch Dentistry today.

Soft Touch Dentistry

1214 Paragon Dr
O’Fallon, IL 62269
(618) 622-5050