How to Prevent and Treat Dry Sockets

Patients may experience dry sockets after getting a tooth extracted, but it is relatively uncommon. Only 2-5% of patients experience dry sockets. When teeth are extracted, normally a blood clot builds up to cover and protect the nerves and bones that are now exposed. In some circumstances, the blood clot can become dislodged or not completely cover the area where the tooth was extracted. When air, food, or liquid touch the bone and nerves, patients will experience pain. If you are experiencing dry sockets, then it is important to follow-up with your oral surgeon immediately. 


Unfortunately, dry sockets are one of the most painful complications of tooth extractions, but they can be easily treated. Your oral surgeon will thoroughly clean the area and they may apply gauze with a special paste that is designed to help heal the socket and eliminate pain. They may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe some if needed. The symptoms of dry socket will go away within 24 hours of treatment, but some patients may need another follow-up. 


Some patients are at higher risk for dry socket than others. You are at a higher risk of dry socket if you: 


  • Smoke
  • Have a traumatic extraction due to an accident or infection
  • Have a wisdom tooth extracted
  • History of poor dental hygiene
  • Take birth control
  • Take any medication that inhibits blood clotting
  • Have a history of dry socket 


Patients who are even at high risk for dry socket can still prevent it by following the recommended post-op instructions given by your oral surgeon. You should use oral antibiotics or antiseptic solutions, if they are given to you, after surgery. Things patients should not do after surgery include: 


  • No rinsing or spitting for 24 hours
  • No drinking from straws
  • No smoking for 72 hours
  • Avoid hot foods and beverages
  • Avoid crunchy foods (popcorn, chips, nuts, etc.)
  • Avoid alcohol consumption 
  • Limit physical activity for 5-7 days


If you are in need of tooth extraction and you are worried about the possible complications, we can answer any questions or concerns you may have. Call us today to set up a consultation at (435) 238-7083.