What Is Dry Socket and How To Prevent It?

Dry socket or alveolar osteitis sounds pretty scary, and no wonder! It can be accompanied by extreme pain in some cases.

This occurs when a socket where a tooth extracted does not heal correctly. Academic research institutions found that only 0.05-5.6% of people get dry sockets with wisdom teeth removal. Although uncommon in dental surgery, any tooth removal can be at risk.

After a tooth extraction, the dentist will normally give you an important set of instructions. The purpose of these among others is to minimize the risk of developing dry socket. 

If you have already had a tooth extraction, how can you prevent and even treat this painful condition? 

Do I Have a Dry Socket?

The healing process begins in the hole or empty tooth socket where the tooth was. The body normally generates a blood clot to cover the exposed bone and nerve endings, if this clot is dislodged, a dry socket occurs. 

It hurts so bad because your bone and nerves are not protected and exposed. 

Dry Socket Symptoms Include: 
  • Sensitivity to cool air, drinks, or food 
  • Visible bone in the extraction
  • Loss of the blood clot
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath

4 Risk Factors of Dry Socket

  • Poor Oral Hygiene. If you don’t take care of the extraction or follow the oral surgeon’s instructions it will inhibit healing. 
  • Smoking. The sucking motion may dislodge the blood clot (just like sucking through a straw). Tobacco and nicotine gum inhibits blood clotting and infects the site. 
  • Birth Control Pills. The hormone estrogen contained in many of these pills can slow the healing process. 
  • Bacteria Infections. This can occur if you have any infections near the extraction site that contaminate

Prevent Dry Socket

Preparation and aftercare are key to avoid this painful condition. Your surgeon will also give and explain your tooth extraction aftercare instructions. 

If you are a smoker, try to quit smoking a few weeks before your appointment. Avoid any sucking motion, spitting, or anything rigorous with your mouth that could dislodge the clot. It’s very important to avoid straws!

Physical activity should be very light the first few days after your extraction. Hot foods and drinks or crunchy foods should not be on the menu for at least 72 hours. Opt for soft foods like Jell-O, mashed potatoes, and warm soup. 

Remember to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing gently and doing gentle salt-water rinses.

A Visit to the Oral Surgeon

If you have intense pain after an extraction, it may be evidence dry socket. Please contact your oral surgeon immediately. They can give you further steps to treat a dry socket. 

Our experienced oral surgeon here at California Oral Surgery in Stockton, CA, has years of experience performing full mouth extractions, adult tooth extractions, and wisdom teeth extractions successfully with little to no cases of dry socket. 

Dr. Sandhu takes his time while extracting the teeth, being careful not to cause extra trauma, then sews the blood clot under the stitching so it’s not dislodged easily. We take time to patiently explain all aftercare instructions to ensure our patients have the best healing time possible. If you need teeth extracted soon, contact us here today! 

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