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(910) 793-0440
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(910) 793-0440

Dry Socket

August 25, 2014

Whether it was a wisdom tooth, or a tooth that simply couldn’t be saved, most of us have experienced having a tooth pulled out by an oral surgeon or dentist before.  While having your teeth pulled is the last thing you want to do, it’s still important to understand the risks that could develop during recovery. If an intense pain is still lingering a few days after surgery, it’s likely a symptom of dry socket.

Alveolar Osteitis or dry socket causes inflammation of the alveolar bone, and usually occurs where the blood clot that is supposed to form after the tooth extraction gets lost in the socket or fails to form altogether. While dry socket is rare—about two to five percent of people are diagnosed—it is important to know why it happens and to determine if you may be more prone to it.

Common Symptoms of Dry Socket

When looking at the site where the tooth was pulled, there will be a dry-looking opening. This opening will look like whitish bone instead of the dark blood clot that should be there. Pain typically begins two days after the tooth was pulled. Over time this pain becomes more severe and can radiate to the ear.

Other symptoms include:
  • Throbbing pain in the socket area
  • Pain near the neck, temple, eye and ear
  • Halitosis
  • An unpleasant smell or taste in the mouth

Who is at Risk?

Some patients are more prone to get dry socket than others following a tooth extraction. That includes people who:

  • Had wisdom teeth pulled
  • Use birth control pills
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Smoke
  • Have a history of dry socket after having teeth pulled
  • Have greater-than-usual trauma during the tooth extraction surgery


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be taken to ease discomfort. Sometimes over-the-counter medications are not enough to relieve the pain. When this is the case, your oral surgeon may prescribe a stronger drug or will anesthetize the area.
Your oral surgeon will cleanse the socket, and remove any debris from the hole. Then he or she will fill the socket with a medicated dressing or a special paste to promote healing. You may have to return to the office every day for a dressing change until the socket begins to heal and the pain subsides.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent the socket from getting infected. Your oral care provider may also recommend rinsing with mouthwash or saltwater every day.
Worried about dry socket? Call Dr. Hasson at Wilmington Oral Surgery or make an appointment by contacting us at 910-793-0440 today!