How Does Dry Socket Occur?

Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) can happen after having a tooth extracted. Ideally, a blood clot forms at the site of the extraction. If the clot does not form, or gets dislodged, the bone and nerves are exposed, causing pain.

What Should It Look Like After Tooth Extraction?

If you look in your mouth where the tooth was removed, you should see a dark colored scab. That is the blood clot that forms after the tooth is taken out. If the site appears white, it may be that the blood clot did not form, or was dislodged, so you can see the bone.

What Does Dry Socket Feel Like?

This condition can be uncomfortable. You may have intense pain at the location of the tooth removal, and/or may experience pain that radiates to your head and neck.

What Are the Warning Signs of Dry Socket?

It is common to feel some soreness and pain after tooth extraction. If the pain worsens after 2 – 3 days, you may have dry socket. Discomfort ranges from mild to severe. You may also notice a foul taste and bad breath.

What Causes Dry Socket?

The following have been identified as risk factors for developing dry socket:

• If the extraction was difficult, there could be trauma at the site that is a contributing factor.
• Poor oral hygiene can cause bacterial contamination.
• Taking birth control (oral contraceptives) can be a risk factor.
• Drinking through a straw after extraction can cause suction which may dislodge the clot.
• Smoking is a risk factor.
• Swishing too vigorously may dislodge a clot.

How Do You Diagnose Dry Socket?

We can confirm this condition by simply looking at the extraction site.

Will Dry Socket Heal Without Dental Assistance?

In most cases, the answer is yes, dry socket can heal on it’s own. However, if you are experiencing a lot of pain, we recommend that you come in to the office for prompt treatment, so that you can ease your discomfort sooner. In rare cases, dry socket can become infected. If this happens, we can prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

How Do You Fix Dry Socket?

The following are ways to ease pain and discomfort of dry socket:

• Gently rinse and clean the socket with salt water.
• Place a soft dressing of medicated gauze in the socket.
• Take over the counter pain relievers.
• Apply ice to the outside cheek.

How Long Does It Take To Heal Dry Socket?

With proper care, you can expect to heal in about 7 – 10 days. It takes that amount of time for new tissue to grow and cover the exposed socket.  Keep brushing your teeth and flossing during this time, avoiding the socket area, to keep your mouth clean and healthy.


We always want our patients to have a good experience. Please call at any time if you have questions or need to come in for a visit to diagnose your condition, or for personal instruction to help with pain and discomfort.

We have 24/7 Phone Service:  815-459-5600

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