What is a Dry Socket? An Inside Look at Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What is a Dry Socket? An Inside Look at Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Oct 01, 2020

Teeth extraction in South Hadley is one of the most dreaded procedures since no one loves having their teeth pulled. However, at times it is necessary, particularly if the teeth are impacted or crowded.

Most of the time, the procedure goes well, and it is normal to feel some pain and discomfort after tooth extraction. However, the ache can intensify and worsen after a few days; in this case, the high chances are that you might have a dry socket condition.

Dry socket is not a common occurrence; in fact, about 5 percent of the people who have their teeth pulled develop this condition. The condition can be very uncomfortable, but the good news is that it is treatable.

How Does a Dry Socket Come About?

When our dentist in South Hadley, MA, extracts your tooth, it leaves a hole in the bone known as a socket. Ideally, after an extraction, a blood clot forms, which protects the nerves and the bones underneath.

In some cases, the clot can get dislodged because of trauma like when you accidentally poke the area when you are brushing your teeth. There are instances when the blood clot might not form because of bacterial contamination.

When the clot is dislodged, it exposes the alveolar bone (jawbone), which is why a dry socket is also referred to as alveolar osteitis. Air, food, and anything that enters your mouth can get lodged in the socket. The inflammation of the jawbone causes dry socket symptoms such as pain and foul breath.

Who Gets a Dry Socket?

If you had ever had your tooth pulled before and had a dry socket, then you are more likely to experience it again. You can let our dentist in South Hadley, MA, know about your history, although our dentist cannot do anything to prevent it from happening. The only thing is that we will be on the lookout for the dry socket.

You are likely to develop a dry socket if you:

  • Smoke
  • Have more significant than usual trauma during the surgery
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Use birth control pills
  • Don’t take good care of the wound

Dry Socket Symptoms

  • The typical dry socket symptoms include:
  • Severe pain within a few days after the extraction
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Total or partial loss of the blood clot at the socket—a “dry” opening
  • Unpleasant taste 
  • Pain radiating from the socket to the ear, neck, or temple
  • Sharp discomfort on the same side of your face as the extraction site
  • Foul breath

Possible Complications of Dry Socket

It is unlikely that you would develop a dry socket. However, if you have one that is left untreated, possible complications might include:

  • Infection that spreads to the bone
  • Delayed healing
  • Infection in the socket

How Is Dry Socket Treated?

You will have to come to the office so that you can receive dry socket treatment. Dry socket treatment includes:

  • Cleaning the site to remove food and debris that are stuck in the socket
  • Medicated gauze is usually used to ease the pain. Our dentist will instruct you on how to change the gauze at home
  • Pain medication, which our dentist will prescribe depending on your pain levels.

How Long Does it Last?

Typically, you will notice the pain three days after an extraction. Dry socket usually lasts seven days if it is caught early and treated.

The healing time can even take ten days since this is how long it takes for new tissue to grow and cover the socket.


Immediately after your teeth extraction in South Hadley, our dentist will take preventive measures such as:

  • Packing the extraction site with a sterile gauze
  • Prescribing antibacterial mouthwash

Other than that, it would help if you practiced the following at home:

  • Resting after the surgery
  • Avoiding strenuous activity that may dislodge the clot 
  • Drinking lots of water and not carbonated drinks
  • Eating soft foods, especially the day after the surgery
  • Staying away from tobacco products for several days
  • Skipping your mouthwash for the first day after the surgery
  • Avoiding the site while brushing your teeth

Dry socket can be painful and uncomfortable. However, when you experience any of the signs associated with dry socket, contact our dentist at South Hadley Dental Group. Our team would love to help you get better.

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