Dry socket is a painful inflammation that can develop in the open
tooth socket of the jawbone after a tooth has been removed (extracted). Dry
sockets often develop after an extraction and are more common after extraction
of third molars (wisdom teeth).1
Dry socket develops when the blood clot at the site of surgery
disintegrates or is dislodged. This condition can cause severe pain extending
up to the ear. The socket may smell bad. The pain from a dry socket may last
for several days.
Women tend to get dry socket more than men. And women who take birth control pills are twice as likely to get dry socket. This may be linked to the
hormone estrogen. Women who take birth control pills and who decide to have their wisdom teeth removed should
try to schedule the surgery for the end of their menstrual cycle (usually days
23 through 28). There seems to be less risk of dry socket during this
Dry socket usually is treated by a
oral surgeon, who may place a special medicated gauze
or paste into the socket and prescribe an
antibiotic. He or she may also have you take pain
To prevent a dry socket, be sure to follow your dentist's
instructions, which may include the following:
Do not smoke or suck through
Do not rinse your mouth or disturb the socket area for at
least 24 hours.
Change cotton gauzes over the socket as they become
soaked with blood.
Call your dentist or oral surgeon if it's a few days after your surgery and you have severe pain around the
area where your tooth was removed.