What is Dry Socket After a Tooth Extraction?

Dry socket is a condition that can develop after your have a tooth removed. It occurs more frequently when wisdom teeth are extracted. Dry socket can cause extreme discomfort and lead to infection, so it is important to have it treated as soon as any symptoms develop. [pullquote]Dry socket is a condition that can develop after your have a tooth removed.[/pullquote]

What Causes Dry Socket?

When you have a tooth removed, a socket is what is left behind. It is the space in the gum and jawbone where the tooth root and the tooth itself rested. Under normal circumstances, the space is filled with a blood clot. The body creates this clot as a protective measure to close up the empty space and protect the exposed bone and the nerves that remain in the socket. Usually the clot remains in place until the tissue beneath has healed.

In some cases, the clot might become dislodged before the socket has healed. The nerve and bone are then exposed, creating extreme sensitivity. When dry socket occurs, even a breath of air over the socket can result in extreme discomfort.

Dry socket is more likely to occur when:

  • You have wisdom teeth removed
  • You do not follow the post-operative instructions from your oral surgeon
  • You are a smoker
  • You rinse your mouth or use a straw after the extraction

Rinsing and using a straw can dislodge the clot prematurely. Smoking affects your healing process throughout your body. Because wisdom teeth are large molars, the clot is more exposed, making it more likely that it can be dislodged.

What are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?

Symptoms of dry socket are usually quite uncomfortable. Because the nerve is exposed, any contact with the socket, whether it is from food, liquids, or air, can cause discomfort that radiates into the jaw and even up into the ear. You might also experience halitosis and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your oral surgeon right away to receive treatment, which might include a prescription drug to prevent infection and make you more comfortable while the socket heals.

For more information about tooth extraction, contact the Salt Lake City office of Dr. Judd E. Partridge today.