Understanding dry socket


If you need to have a tooth pulled or extracted, one of the problems that can develop is dry socket. Dry socket is what dentists call alveolar osteitis. This condition can cause serious pain in your mouth for up to five days.

The pain may occur if the socket where the tooth is removed becomes infected or loses its blood clot. To help your mouth recover after a tooth is pulled:

  • Avoid tobacco, which slows recovery in your mouth.

  • Don’t drink through a straw for the first 24 hours; it could disturb the blood clot in the socket.

  • Gently brush your other teeth twice a day, paying special attention to the gum line, and floss at least once daily. Try to avoid the tooth socket.

  • If you rinse out your mouth, do so gently. Don’t overdo rinsing, or you may dislodge the blood clot in the socket that help speed healing.

If you have a lot of pain after your tooth is removed, talk with your dentist. Treatments can include:

  • Cleaning the area and placing a dressing in the socket. This dressing contains medicine that helps ease pain. This dressing might need to be changed daily until the pain goes away.

  • Aspirin or ibuprofen to ease pain. The pain will usually fade after a few days.



“Brushing Your Teeth.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth. Accessed 2013.

"Flossing." Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing.Accessed 2013.

“Dry Socket.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/dry-socket. Accessed 2013.

“Extractions.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/extractions. Accessed 2013.

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