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Extractions and Dentoalveolar Surgery

What is Dry Socket?

Alveolar osteitis, commonly called “dry socket,” is a painful condition occuring after having a tooth extracted. A dry socket happens when a blood clot is dislodged or otherwise breaks down in the site of a tooth extraction, exposing bone and nerves that can result in significant pain.

After surgery to remove wisdom teeth – the most common site for dry socket – it can be easy to forget some of the keys to recovery – many of which are based around keeping blood clots stable in the site of the extracted teeth. Read on to learn more dry socket symptoms and how to prevent the condition.

Dry Socket Symptoms

While some pain is to be expected following the removal of any teeth, dry socket symptoms typically include severe pain within a few days after a tooth extraction. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain radiating from the socket outward – toward the eye, ear, neck or temple on that side of the face
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Bad breath or a foul smell or taste in the mouth

If patients experience any of these symptoms, they should contact their oral and maxillofacial surgeon in an effort to manage this discomfort.

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OMS Voices Preview: Wisdom Teeth FAQs

How to Minimize the Risk of Dry Socket

In order to properly recover from a tooth extraction, it is essential to follow your OMS’s instructions, from what to do before surgery to what to eat during recovery from wisdom tooth extraction. To lower the risk of dry socket and avoid those painful dry socket symptoms:

  • Remember to always follow your OMS’s postoperative instructions.
  • Stop smoking before the extraction and avoid tobacco use during recovery.
  • Discuss any medications with the oral and maxillofacial surgeon to account for any that might interfere with clotting.
  • Avoid vigorously rinsing the mouth, and avoid brushing around the extraction site for at least 24 hours.
  • Avoid using straws during the first 24-48 hours after extraction, as the sucking action can dislodge a clot.

Although dry socket is a common worry of patients having impacted wisdom teeth removed, these steps should be followed after any tooth extraction to avoid dry socket.

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Find an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Patients in tooth extraction or wisdom teeth recovery experiencing symptoms of dry socket should contact their OMS immediately. When it’s time to have a tooth extracted, trust the experts in face, mouth and jaw surgery – find a local oral surgeon.

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Last updated July 2021

The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is provided to help you communicate effectively when you seek the advice of your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Photos and videos are for illustration purposes only and are not indicative to what a patient may experience.