what is dry socket

What Is Dry Socket, Symptoms Of Dry Socket & Treatment Options?

Pulling a tooth out isn’t really an amazing experience. You can literally feel a discomfort after pulling out a tooth. You might leave it for the time being but what if pain gets more intense and will not go away easily? This can later lead to dry socket and which is also popularly called as alveolar osteitis. Very less people get the problem of dry socket and it can be seen only after a tooth is extracted. Dry sockets can really be very uneasy but luckily it can be easily treated. Socket is basically a hole present inside the bone when a tooth is removed. As a tooth is removed, blood clot is formed inside the socket in order to protect the nerves and bone beneath. There are times when the blood clot gets dissolved within a few days after tooth extraction. This will leave the nerve as well as bone exposed to food, fluid, air or any kind of thing which enters the human mouth. This in turn leads to severe infection and causes a lot of pain which can be for a week. Dry sockets can be seen among the people:

what is dry socket

  • Ø Who often smoke or addicted to smoking
  • Ø Who have pulled out their wisdom teeth
  • Ø Who use lot of pills
  • Ø Who have very poor oral health

Apart from all the above points, there are few other things which can also increase the possibilities of dry socket. Rinsing your mouth often or drinking with the help of a straw or spitting many times once the tooth is extracted can lead to dry socket. Hence you will have to be careful if you have your teeth pulled out. You will have to follow everything properly as prescribed by your dentist. If you don’t be cautious, then you will develop dry socket easily.

What are the symptoms of dry socket?

Before we get into the symptoms, we should know what a dry socket is. By definition, dry socket is a worse dental condition where a patient feels a massive pain once the tooth has been extracted. This dry socket occurs mostly when the blood-clot on the tooth extracted side gets dissolved even before the wound gets completely healed. If they aren’t treated on time, it can lead to intense and severe pains. Thus it is better to get it checked immediately as you find the below listed symptoms.

The main symptoms of dry socket are none other than:

  • Ø Unbearable pain as the tooth has been extracted
  • Ø Very bad breath
  • Ø Unpleasant smell in your mouth
  • Ø Unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Ø Bone can be easily seen inside the socket
  • Ø In severe cases of dry socket, the pain starts gradually and as time passes it increases and there are great chances of radiating towards your ear.
  • Ø You can feel pain radiating towards your ears, eyes as well as neck. The pain will mostly on the side where the tooth has been extracted
  • Ø You can see empty looking socket after a tooth has been extracted
  • Ø Foul odor can be felt from the mouth
  • Ø The lymph nodes can literally be seen swollen around the neck or jaw

When a tooth is extracted, it is completely natural that you feel some pain as well as discomfort but if you are really experiencing the above symptoms, then you can be sure that you have a dry socket and it has to be treated immediately before it gets worse. Once you get it treated by a good dentist, you will soon come over the pain and you don’t have to suffer more. Always remember prevention is better than cure. If you have them treated at the right time, the pain will be reduced within a short period of time.

What are the causes of dry socket?

When a tooth is been extracted, you will literally see the formation of blood clot. Actually this formation of blood clot is very important because it helps in protecting the nerve layer as well as the bone layer of the tooth. The clot will help in providing the foundation. It helps in the growth of new bone as well as soft tissue formation over the blood clot. The dry socket occurs mainly when this clot is not formed properly or the clot gets dissolved soon before the wound is healed completely. The dry socket basically occurs due to improper formation of blood clot. If the blood clot is not formed properly, then the space which is required to form the new tissue after the tooth has been extracted will never emerge. This is when the nerves and bones will be exposed to food, fluids and air which in turn cause an intense pain. Sometimes the pain radiates towards the ears and neck as well. Causes of dry socket can be due to many different reasons. Some of the important causes are as follows:

  • Ø A bacterium contaminates the entire socket and this can be the main reason.
  • Ø Excess smoking and poor oral health
  • Ø Small parts of bones and roots remaining in wound, after a surgery

There are many factors that are linked with dry socket which are as follows:

You will have to follow the instructions given by your dentist properly once your tooth has been extracted. In this way you will carefully protect the blood clot being damaged. Only if you protect it, you won’t develop a dry socket. Thus you will have to be cautious in following all those instructions given by your doctor so that you don’t end up in a disaster. If you are someone who smokes a lot, then it is mandatory that quit for few days when you have your tooth extracted. There are high possibilities of dry socket formation in the smokers than in ordinary person who have their tooth extracted. When a smoker sucks the cigarette, it will disturb the inner part of your mouth where the tooth has been extracted. It disturbs the formation of blood clot. The toxic chemicals present in the cigar will do a lot of harm and this is the reason why it is not good to smoke at that time.

Factors affecting dry socket

Dry socket is an oral condition which is very painful and occurs mostly after a tooth extraction. This condition is very rare but when it comes, the patient can feel an intense pain on the side of extraction. The pain sometimes becomes so intense that it can even radiate towards neck as well as ears. There are many factors which you must know about the dry socket and are as follows:

  • Ø Once you have your tooth extracted, you will have to follow all the instructions properly given by your dentist. If you don’t follow them, then you will end up seeing the symptoms of dry socket along with an intense pain.
  • Ø Dry socket occurs to people who smoke a lot. They literally suck the cigar and thus in taking a lot of toxic chemicals inside their mouth. This in turn affects the blood clot and damages the tissue formation which is really necessary once the tooth has been extracted. Therefore smoking can contaminate as well as disturb the entire process of healing.
  • Ø Increased estrogen levels can also be another reason of dry socket formation. Estrogen can easily dissolve or damage the blood-clot. Thus, if you are one among the people who take a lot of oral contraceptives, then the risks of dry socket development is normal.
  • Ø Even a very poor oral health can lead to infection as well. Even if you have an existing infection or increased bacteria, then complications of dry socket also increases. You will have to maintain a proper oral health so that you don’t face any issues of dry socket.
  • Ø Apart from all this, if an individual had already suffered from dry socket during his or her tooth extraction, then there are lots of possibilities that it can happen again.

Dry socket treatments


Dry socket can be very severe if you don’t take proper care after a tooth has been extracted. When it occurs, it can really be painful but luckily it can be treated. It is very normal that pain occurs after a tooth extraction but if you are experiencing an intense pain for many days, then you are likely to develop the symptoms of dry socket. It is always good to meet your dentist as early as possible before the condition gets worse. A dentist will take an X-ray to find out if you have a dry socket. The following are some treatments which a dentist gives in order to get relieved from pain:

  • Ø The pain can be intense during the occurrence of dry socket and thus a dentist prescribes some pain killers so that a patient can get a relief from the pain.
  • Ø A dentist will usually clean the socket of the tooth very carefully by rinsing it with water and ensures that there is no food particles trapped inside. If there is anything sticking inside, it can not only cause pain but also damages the socket more. Rinsing or cleaning this socket can be extremely painful and this is the reason why a dentist gives a local anesthesia before cleaning so that the pain isn’t felt by the patient.

Once the socket has been cleaned properly, the dentist will add medicated dressing to the socket that is opened. The medicated dressing includes antiseptics and analgesics so that the patient gets a huge relief from the pain which he or she is suffering from. It will also help preventing infections and irritation when the food substances enter into the mouth.

The above treatment given by the dentist will help a patient to come over the pain in few days and symptoms of dry socket gradually vanish.

How to prevent dry socket from occurring after a tooth extraction? 

Dry socket can really be very painful and thus you will have to get treated once you experience pain for long time after a tooth has been extracted. Though pain is natural to occur after a tooth has been extracted, it isn’t really good if you keep experiencing pain for many days. You can prevent dry socket from occurring by doing many things and this is what will be discussed throughout this article. It is no doubt that dry sockets occur after a tooth extraction and thus if you are removing a tooth, you will have to concentrate on eliminating the formation of dry socket because “Prevention is better than cure”. Before you extract the tooth, you will have to consider certain things which are as follows:

  • Ø The first and foremost is to go to a good doctor who is an expert in carrying out the process of tooth extraction smoothly.
  • Ø Secondly, you will have to maintain a good oral health because an improper oral hygiene can damage the extracted to a great extent and thus finally dry socket forms. Hence you will have to see that you have a good oral hygiene and especially before the tooth have been extracted.
  • Ø If you have the habit of smoking often, then you will have to quit for at least twenty four hours before your tooth will be extracted.
  • Ø If you are a female and fixing an appointment with your dentist for extracting the tooth, then you will have to make sure that you have your tooth extracted during last week of menstrual cycle. This is the time when the estrogen levels will be reduced. Increased estrogen levels can easily dissolve the blood clot formation which is really necessary because that is the only thing which acts as a protective layer.

Once the tooth has been extracted, the patient has to be extra cautious so that dry socket isn’t formed.

What is the risk of smoking before and after tooth extraction?

There are various factors which can lead to the formation of dry socket. As you all know, dry socket occurs mainly when a person undergoes tooth extraction. It is a very painful oral situation where the blood clot doesn’t get formed properly. This volt helps in forming the tissue and also acts as a protective layer to the nerves and bones that are lying underneath. Thus you will have to be very careful after a tooth extraction. There are many things which can easily lead to dry socket and these are as follows:

The first basic reason can be due to smoking after as well as before the tooth extraction. Researches have shown that a person who smokes is likely to develop dry socket than the ones who don’t smoke. Smoking is injurious to health and has a massive impact on your health. The toxic substances present in the cigar do plenty of harmful things and especially when it comes to oral health, the impact is worse. If the patient is a smoker, then he or she cannot resist themselves from smoking and this is where the problem starts. After a tooth extraction, when a person tries to smoke, a chemical named “carbon monoxide” enters through the bloodstream and thus blocking the oxygen to be carried. Oxygen is required for the wounds to be healed properly but when there is inadequate oxygen supply, the blood clot gets dissolved and wounds will never be healed, dry socket forms. No doubt that a cigarette has to be sucked in order to smoke and this sucking can disturb the clot to an extreme extent. Healing process will entirely be disturbed by a chemical substance called as nicotine. The tobacco present inside the cigar can easily damage the tissue cells. The patient will not only experience an intense pain but there will also be bad breath.  Make sure you neither smoke for one day before the tooth is been extracted nor after the extraction. Stay away from it until the wound heals.

Precautions to take during a tooth extraction in order to avoid dry socket

Dry socket can make you suffer with intense pain. The best way is to avoid it rather than getting it. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot is not formed properly once the tooth has been extracted. The clot will be disturbed by either air or food or fluid. Thus it is very important that you take care properly after a tooth has been extracted by the dentist. Let us know deep about the things you will have to be very careful about in order to prevent dry socket.

Smoke: This is the most dangerous part and probably where the dry socket occurs. Smoking will block the oxygen to go inside and thus the tissues will be damaged to a great extent. This is when the blood clot gets easily damaged or dissolved, which in turn leads to formation of dry socket. Once it is formed, there will be unbearable pain at the extracted side and sometimes pain might also radiate towards neck and ears. Thus it is good to have it treated immediately when you see its symptoms.

Oral contraceptives: The pills that are linked to birth control can be the main reasons for increasing dry sockets. It contains higher levels of estrogen and this can easily dissolve the blood clot that has been formed.

Poor oral health: An unhealthy oral hygiene can lead to lot of problems. In fact this is the important reason for the formation of dry socket. Once the dry socket is formed, you can feel unpleasant taste as well as smell in your mouth. Thus you will have to maintain yourself with proper care when it comes to oral health.

Apart from all this, you will have to follow these things:

  • Ø Don’t rinse your mouth often with water
  • Ø Avoid sucking liquids with the help of a straw
  • Ø Don’t spit often after the tooth has been extracted
  • Ø Don’t smoke for few days until the wounds are completely healed