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Understanding dry socket

Tooth extractions are common procedures and the vast majority of patients experience straightforward and easy recoveries. After your extraction, your oral surgeon will make several recommendations to help prevent dry socket in the space where your tooth was located.

In this post, we’ll explain what dry socket is, how to avoid it, and what to do if it does happen.

What is dry socket?

When your tooth is extracted, a blood clot will form at the base of the empty socket to protect the bone and nerve endings during the healing process. It’s possible for this blood clot to be dislodged or dissolved too soon. If this happens within the first few days following your extraction, the result is dry socket.

How to prevent dry socket?

  • Eat soft foods: Hard to eat food can become lodged in your empty socket and interfere with the blood clot.
  • Avoid straws: Drinking from a straw creates suction in your mouth which can pull the blood clot out of position.
  • Pause the use of tobacco: Using any tobacco product before, or after, a tooth extraction will increase the risk of dry socket.
  • Practice oral hygiene: Keeping your mouth clean is an important way to prevent a blood clot from breaking down due to the presence of germs and bacteria.
  • Rinse carefully: Gently rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day to keep your mouth clean following an extraction.

How do I know if I have dry socket?

The primary symptom of dry socket is sharp discomfort at the extraction site. This is because the blood clot is no longer there to protect the sensitive tissues at the base of the socket. Dry socket can also cause bad breath.

Treating dry socket

If dry socket happens, make an appointment with your dentist or oral surgeon for treatment. To treat dry socket, you will be given medication to manage discomfort and may have additional medication placed at the base of your empty socket. The affected socket may also need to be professionally cleaned to prevent infection.