Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Dry Socket

Font Size

Topic Overview

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.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Dental Tips for Looking Younger

Your mouth is more than just a pretty smile. It's also a gateway to your overall health. Keeping that gateway clean may keep you healthier longer -- and looking younger. “Just as white, straight teeth convey youth, a smile with crooked, discolored, worn, or missing teeth is associated with an aged look,” says Edmond Hewlett, DDS, professor of restorative dentistry at UCLA's School of Dentistry. “The adage ‘long in the tooth,’ used to describe older persons, reflects the fact that gum disease causes...

Read the Dental Tips for Looking Younger article > >

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 time.2

Dry socket usually is treated by a dentist or 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 medicine.

To prevent a dry socket, be sure to follow your dentist's instructions, which may include the following:

  • Do not smoke or suck through straws.
  • 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.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 02, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
highlighted areas of the brain
How well do you know yours?
oatmeal and eggs
The best and worst for you.
dog begging at table
Foods your dog should never eat.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
mature woman with serious expression
What do you know?
chlamydia
Pictures and facts.
Healthy Snack
13 delicious options.
Take your medication
Separate fact from fiction.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
woman clutching at stomach
Do you know what's causing yours?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.