Dry Sockets: What are They and How to Prevent Them

by | Sep 9, 2015 | Oral Surgery

What is a dry socket?

A dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, is when a blood clot is not formed at the site of extraction. The blood clot is protection for the bones and nerves underneath the tooth. Only 2-5% of people will develop a dry socket after tooth extraction.

What are the symptoms?

At the site of extraction you will most likely see a dry-looking opening and whitish bone. Other symptoms of a dry socket may be bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. You may not notice your dry socket until 2 days after the extraction. The discomfort and pain to pay close attention to is a sharp sensation when exposed to air, fluid, and food as well as a radiating pain to the ears. Some patients may experience headaches and sensitivity to light.

How is a dry socket treated?

Your dental surgeon will clean the extraction site to clear it of any food or debris that may have settled into the site and may cause infection. Once the site is cleaned the dental surgeon will fill the socket with medical dressing or a special paste to heal the area. Not only will this promote healing it will prevent debris from entering back into the site. During this time your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and painkillers to prevent infection and discomfort.

How do I prevent a dry socket?

Before getting teeth extracted it is important to share your medical health with your dental surgeon. Some medicines may interfere with normal blood clotting, be sure to disclose these before the procedure. Avoid tobacco of any kind, straws, spitting, and be sure to rinse your mouth gently to prevent dislodging of the blood clot. If you are in need of a tooth extraction keep this in mind to save yourself from a week of pain and discomfort.


Dr. Merle Saldivar

Dr. Saldivar received a B.S. at Penn State University and a D.D.S. at University of Maryland. With over 10 years of experience, Dr. Saldivar is certified in the United States Dental Institue (Orthodontic Program) as well as Invisalign certified. She is fluent in Spanish, Tagalog-Filipino, and volunteers her services for Give Kids a Smile, a program that is part of the American Dental Association.
Dr. Merle Saldivar

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