What is a Dry Socket and How to Treat It

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A dry socket or alveolar osteitis is a painful dental condition that can happen after having a permanent tooth extracted. A dry socket is when the clotted blood at the site of the tooth extraction doesn’t form, dislodge, or dissolve before the wound has had a chance to heal fully. It’s recommended that you see your dentist if this issue arises.

What does a dry socket look like?

After you have a tooth extraction, you should develop a blood clot in the hole or socket where the tooth used to be. It’ll look like a dark scab of dried blood. However, if you have a dry socket, the hole will be exposed, and you’ll be able to see bone, which is why dry sockets often look white. But, sometimes bacteria or food particles may cover it. In those cases, a dry socket might look black, green, or some shades of yellow. Doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it? That’s why self-care is so important, and you’ll need to stick to your doctor’s instructions after tooth extraction

What does a dry socket feel like?

In the days following the loss of a tooth, removal, or extraction — the main symptom is a pain in the jaw or mouth. The pain and discomfort may be accompanied by bad breath. In some cases, there may also be pus or swelling accompanying the pain and/or bad breath. Many people experience dry sockets at the site of wisdom tooth extraction due to improper self-care post-procedure. 

How do you treat a dry socket? 

As with any medical issue, you should get a professional diagnosis from your dentist. Dry socket treatments can include pain medications including analgesic pain reliever, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation, lower fever, and relieve pain, topical antiseptics to destroy and prevent the growth of microorganisms that cause infection, antibiotics to kill bacteria, and dietary supplements to promote immune health. Your oral self-care should include cleaning your mouth by flushing the affected area, brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash regularly.