Dry Socket: Sign, symptoms, and how to heal it.

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By: Dr. Nathan Coughlin

A dry socket is a process that happens when a blood clot falls away from the extraction site. Blood clot removal can occur after any type of extraction but primarily during wisdom teeth extractions.

This process typically happens within the first few days after an extraction and is extremely unlikely after four days.

Dry sockets can be cured at home, but your dentist may have to ease the pain with various medicaments at the office if the pain is too severe.

What is a dry socket?

A dry socket is when a blood clot falls out from an extraction site prematurely. The reason for premature blood clot removal is due to either a sucking motion or something that dislodges the clot.

The blood clot is formed soon after an extraction is completed. The purpose of the blood clot is to prevent further bleeding from the site and stimulate tissue and bone formation. 

When a blood clot has fallen from the extraction site too early, this will leave the underlying bone, blood, and nerve vessels exposed, which will cause extreme pain.

When can you get a dry socket?

A dry socket typically occurs 1-3 days after an extraction and is extremely unlikely after four days. If you do not feel anything after four days, you will likely not get a dry socket.

What does a dry socket look like?

The easiest way to determine if you have a dry socket is to look at the extraction site. Your extraction site will appear as an unfilled hole with a whitish appearance.

Typical extraction sites fill with red fibrous tissue that may look inflamed. The inflammation is the starting process of healing.

Dry socket treatment

If you are experiencing bad pain in your extraction site, please come into our office to evaluate your extraction site.

One of our dentists will likely do one or more of the following:

  1. Clean the extraction site
  2. Add bone graft material
  3. Prescribe pain medication
  4. Add dry socket paste to the extraction site

If the pain is not severe, you can perform the dry socket treatment by yourself. Some home remedies include:

  1. Over the counter pain medication
  2. Teabag to the extraction site
  3. Essential oils
  4. Cold/warm compress to alleviate pain

How long will your dry socket pain stay for?

Typical healing is anywhere from 7-10 days. At this point, the site should heal, and you will no longer feel discomfort.

The healing time may be prolonged for immunocompromised and periodontal patients.

How to prevent dry sockets?

Your dentist and dental assistant should have gone over post-operative instructions with you already. We recommend the following to avoid dry socket issues:

  1. No sucking through a straw
  2. Avoid smoking
  3. Do not vigorously swish anything in your mouth
  4. Do not participate in strenuous exercise
  5. Take antibiotics if needed
  6. Avoid sharp foods or anything that can poke inside your mouth.

Dry Socket conclusion

If you have any signs or symptoms of dry sockets, please come into our Breckinridge Dental location in Richardson, TX. We will do everything we can to alleviate your discomfort.

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