Alveolar osteitis, commonly referred to as dry socket, is a painful condition that can occur after the extraction of a permanent adult tooth. It is one of the more common complications following a tooth extraction and happens when a protective blood clot does not form after the extraction, or forms but is totally or partially dislodged from the fresh extraction site. If the clot is lost, then bone and nerves are left exposed, which causes pain and can lead to infection. It is normal to have some soreness and discomfort after an extraction, but if you develop a fever, or the pain suddenly worsens two or three days after the extraction, then call your dentist promptly, as you may have a dry socket.
While researchers have not found one specific cause, there are several factors they believe contribute to dry sockets. Some potential causes are:
Other causes may include problems with the jawbone, such as inadequate blood supply or compromised bone structure, which may further increase the likelihood of developing a dry socket. While dry sockets can develop after the extraction of any tooth, they tend to occur more frequently with wisdom teeth in the lower jaw compared to other teeth. Dry sockets are uncommon in children under age 12.
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing a dry socket, including:
To prevent dry sockets from forming, you should follow the advice of your dentist after your surgery. Common recommendations include:
Despite the best efforts of the surgeon and patient, dry sockets can occur. However, there are steps you can take to limit the risk.
To help prevent a dry socket and aid your recovery after a tooth is extracted:
1. Dry socket. (2017, January 25) from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-socket/symptoms-causes/syc-20354376
2. Dry socket. (2021, August) from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dry-socket
3. Dry socket. (2022, March 28) from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17731-dry-socket