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Dry Socket - Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment

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Dry Socket - Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment

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Dry socket is a widespread problem that may occur after extraction (removal) of a tooth. Many patients are scared of this condition just after getting their tooth extracted. This article is about the cause, risk factors, and treatment of dry socket.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At May 22, 2019
Reviewed AtDecember 8, 2022

What Exactly Is a Dry Socket?

Sometimes after extraction or removal of teeth, there is throbbing or pinching pain in the region of extraction with a foul smell. This condition is termed as dry socket or alveolar osteitis. It generally occurs two or three days after removal of a tooth.

What Can Cause a Dry Socket?

It occurs due to disintegration or destruction of the clot formed after the extraction or removal of the tooth, which can be due to:

  • Extraction or removal done with a lot of trauma to the surrounding region of tooth, that is the gums and the bone.
  • Because of bacterial contamination in the region of extraction.

Mandibular third molar removal is causes the majority of dry sockets or alveolar osteitis than other teeth in the oral cavity. But, it can occur after extraction or removal of any tooth in the oral cavity.

What Are the Risk Factors for a Dry Socket?

  • Smoking and tobacco consumption: People who have a habit of consuming tobacco directly or through smoking are more prone to dry socket.
  • Poor sterilization and disinfection during extraction: Use of any infected instrument increases the risk of a dry socket or alveolar osteitis.
  • Alveolus infections: The presence of any alveolus infection in tooth socket prior to removal can lead to a dry socket or alveolar osteitis.
  • Thorough spitting after extraction: Vigorous spitting after extraction can cause changes to the clot formed, which may cause a dry socket.

How Is a Dry Socket Detected Clinically?

  • After two or three days of extraction, the patient suffers severe throbbing or pinching pain and foul or unpleasant smell.
  • The affected alveolus is empty or denuded.
  • The bony surface is soft and very sensitive, and is covered with yellowish-grey necrosed tissues.

How Is a Dry Socket Treated?

The patient should consult the dentist immediately. The affected region is cleaned, and a dressing of Zinc Oxide Eugenol is applied and the patient is asked to follow-up after three days.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Does Dry Socket Manifest?

Severe pain after a few days of extraction, loss of blood clot at the site of extraction, radiating pain to the neck, ears, and eye, malodor, unpleasant taste, and bone visibility in the socket are the manifestations of dry socket.


When Is Dry Socket Not a Concern?

A dry socket is not a concern if the extraction site is fully healed, which usually is between 7 to 10 days.


How Many Days Does the Dry Socket Last?

After the extraction of a tooth, a blood clot should form at the site to be healed. However, if there is a disruption of the blood clot, it results in the dry socket, which usually starts on the third day after the extraction and lasts for seven days.


What Is the Treatment for Dry Socket?

- Flushing the socket to clean the debris.
- Packing the socket with a medicated gel or paste.
- Taking pain-relieving medication.
- Self-care involves cleaning the debris from the socket with the help of squirt water, prescription rinse, or saltwater.


Can a Dry Socket Be Relieved by Saltwater?

Rinsing with salt water helps in preventing further infection at the extraction site. Missing a half tablespoon of salt with eight ounces of water and squishing it for one minute helps remove debris and promote healing.


What Are the Complications of an Untreated Dry Socket?

Prolonged healing, infection of the extraction socket, and osteomyelitis are the possible complications of an untreated dry socket.


Can a Dry Socket Improve on Its Own?

Although a dry socket can heal on its own, it may cause discomfort, which can be relieved at home by squishing the mouth with salt water to remove the debris.


Can a Dry Socket Be Left Ignored?

A dry socket rarely may result in complications, but ignoring the dry socket is difficult since the nerve endings, bone, and tissue are exposed.


Are Antibiotics Needed for Dry Sockets?

The causative factor of dry factor is disruption of the blood clot and not the bacteria; therefore, antibiotics are not usually needed. Immunocompromised individuals and people with a history of dry socket are recommended with antibiotics after tooth extraction.


Can Sutures Cause Dry Sockets?

Placement of sutures or stitches helps prevent the disruption of a blood clot and reduces the risk of developing a dry socket.


Are Dry Sockets Common?

Although dry socket is a relatively rare condition, compared to other complications of tooth extraction, the incidence of dry sockets is most common.


What Are the Signs of a Healing Dry Socket?

Healing of the dry socket is identified by the presence of a red-colored blood clot, which slowly dissolves and is replaced with fibrin.


How Can We Heal Dry Sockets Faster?

Squishing the mouth with water frequently, avoiding tobacco or smoking, maintaining hydration, and taking pain medications help treat dry sockets at home.
Dr. Ruchika Singh
Dr. Ruchika Singh



tobaccocigarette smokingpost extraction complicationdry sockettooth extraction
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