What is a Dry Socket, and What Can Be Done If I Get One?

A dry socket is a painful complication that may occur after wisdom teeth removal or an adult tooth extraction. A dry socket results from dislodging the blood clot which forms at the extraction site before the area has healed, exposing bone and nerves.

The blood clot serves as a protective barrier, shielding the wound from debris and irritation. When the clot falls off, the exposed bone and nerve endings in the tooth socket become inflamed and cause intense pain that radiates to the side of the face. Most people develop a dry socket in the first three to five days after tooth extraction. If you develop a dry socket, contact our office immediately and we will see you in our office to provide you with relief.

Symptoms of a Dry Socket

  • Severe pain in days 3 to 5 after tooth extraction
  • Loss of the blood clot over the extraction site
  • Visible bone where the tooth was extracted
  • Pain radiating to the eye, ear, temple, or neck
  • A foul odor in the mouth
  • An unpleasant, metallic taste in the mouth
  • Severe pain that worsens instead of improving over time

Treatment of a Dry Socket

When you come into the office, Dr. Valiente will gently examine the area to determine whether a dry socket is the cause of your pain. If so, we will take steps to relieve your pain and prevent infection.

Flushing out the socket is the first step. This will remove any debris or food particles that may lead to infection or contribute to your pain. Next, we will pack the socket with a medicated paste that will quickly relieve the pain.

Dr. Valiente will also recommend at-home self-care after the dressing is removed, including flushing the empty tooth socket using a small syringe to promote healing. We instruct patients on how to do this at home and provide the necessary tools. Within a few days, your pain should be resolved.

Avoiding Dry Socket

To avoid developing a dry socket after a tooth extraction, be sure to follow Dr. Valiente’s post-operative instructions carefully. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Do not use a straw or suck on candy
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and non-carbonated liquids
  • Gently rinse your mouth with warm (not hot) saltwater throughout the day
  • Brush your teeth gently, avoiding the empty socket
  • Do not probe the socket with your tongue or fingers
  • Do not eat hard or crunchy food

While dry socket occasionally happens after tooth extractions, particularly after wisdom teeth removal, with proper treatment we can relieve your pain and ensure proper healing.

If you believe you have a dry socket, please call our office at 813-968-5400, Dr. Valiente will see you as quickly as possible.