Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is dry socket?

A: Dry socket is the most common complication of an extraction. It develops in about 5% of tooth extractions. It is very painful condition that is easily treated.

A dry socket is:

Any socket in which a patient is having pain due to the loss of the blood clot thus exposing the bone to air, food, and fluids along with an offensive odor. This often occurs two or more days after an extraction and can last about 5-6 days. It is normal to have soreness and discomfort following an extraction. However, pain should be lessening by the second day.

This condition exist when a blood clot is dislodged from the surgery site thus exposing the bone and fine nerve endings. The blood clot helps in the stopping of bleeding and lays the foundation or framework for new tissue and bone to develop over a two-month healing process. This condition is more common in the mandibular area and in back teeth due to poorer circulation in this area, with wisdom teeth being the most common site. Dry socket delays the healing process.

It usually takes gum tissue about 3-4 weeks to heal where as the bone can take up to six months to heal.

This condition is most often found:

  • In individuals who smoke before their recommended time. Smoking: decreases healing, decrease blood supply to the protective blood clot, brings toxic products to the area, injuries the gum tissue and the negative pressure of sucking removes the blood clot from the surgery site.
  • If you do not administer the proper care for your extraction site as instructed by staff.
  • Not following your home care instructions.
  • Sucking action from smoking, sneezing, coughing, spitting or sucking, within the first 24 hours.
  • Women taking oral contraceptives are more susceptible.

Prevention of dry socket:

  • Avoid drinking through a straw.
  • Avoid smoking, it contaminates the extraction site.
  • Avoid excessive mouth rinsing, it interferes with blood clotting.
  • Keep food from impacting in this area. Chew on the other side of your mouth and gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water after the first 24 hours
  • Women who use birth control pills or have their teeth removed in the first 22 days of the menstrual cycle are twice as likely to develop dry socket after an extraction. Schedule extractions during the last week of your menstrual cycle(days 23 through 28)when estrogen levels are low or inactive.