Dry Socket FAQ

As you prepare to get that pesky tooth pulled you have probably been warned by friends that the tooth extraction is not the bad part. It is the dry socket to fear. You might wonder, dry socket?! What is that? Good thing the team at Foster Dental Care is here to help you with your dry socket concerns. Here we will review what a dry socket is, stress the importance of following your dentist’s instructions and what to do if you (gasp!) get a dry socket.

What are dry sockets?
• A dry socket is a fairly common complication associated with tooth extractions.
• The formation of a dry socket involves a scenario where the blood clot that forms in the tooth socket after the extraction isn’t properly retained (either it disintegrates or is dislodged).
• Since this blood clot is an important factor in protecting the boney tooth socket and initiating the healing process, the healing of the extraction site is interrupted (becomes delayed).
• Dry sockets can cause discomfort and pain, the gum tissue surrounding the extraction site to become inflamed and reddened, a foul odor or taste from the extraction site or lymph nodes in the jaw or neck may be tender and enlarged. Fever is not typically associated with the presence of a dry socket.

What causes dry sockets?
• Dental research has not yet been able to determine the exact chain of events that causes dry sockets. It has, however, been able to identify a number of factors that seem to place a person at greater risk for having one.
• Proper blood clot formation helps to prevent dry sockets.
• After having a tooth pulled place firm biting pressure on the gauze packing that has been placed over their extraction site for the next 30, and preferably 60 minutes.
• Doing this will help ensure that a proper blood clot has a chance to form in the tooth socket.
• Protecting the blood clot that has formed will help prevent a dry socket.
• Once a blood clot has formed, you must be careful not to disrupt it.
• During the first 24 hours after an extraction avoid vigorous rinsing, refrain from actions like sucking on a straw or cigarette, avoid alcohol and tobacco use in general, minimize physical stress and exercise, and avoid hot liquids such as coffee and soup.

• Patients who don’t follow their dentist’s postoperative instructions have a greater incidence of dry sockets. Dentists give instructions for a reason.
• Dental patients who have had a dry socket before are at greater risk for developing a dry socket with future extractions.
• If you’ve had a dry socket before, you should consider yourself to be at somewhat greater risk for experiencing one again.
• There can be a number of factors involved in this type of situation, many of which you don’t have any control over. However, it’s also quite possible that your previous dry socket experience was simply due to the fact that you didn’t follow your dentist’s postoperative instructions as closely as you should have.
• Whatever the circumstances or cause, be smart. Help minimize your potential for having a dry socket this time around by strictly adhering to proper post-extraction protocol.
How long do dry sockets last?
• Once a dry socket has developed it takes about 7 to 10 days for new granulation tissue to form and cover over the socket’s exposed bone.
• This doesn’t necessarily mean that the pain from your dry socket will last for this entire time period.
What is the ‘cure’ for dry sockets?
Actually, there is no ‘cure’ for a dry socket. This is why:

• The dry socket condition involves a situation where an extraction site’s healing process has been delayed. Over time, the wound can still be expected to go ahead and heal on its own. It will take longer and be more painful than it would have been otherwise.
• Visit your dentist for a dry socket treatment. This treatment may not speed up the extraction site healing but will help to reduce the amount of discomfort you experience.
• Having your dentist involved with the treatment of a dry socket may help create a more predictable healing environment.

We hope these tips have helped you with your questions about what a dry socket is and how to treat it. If you have more questions or other tips on treatment, we would love to hear them! Post your thoughts in the comments section below.