A logo with a black background.

Dry Socket Pain - What Are the Causes and How to Deal With It

Sometimes, no matter how much a dentist might try, there won’t be any hope for that bad tooth and it will simply have to come out.

The dentist pulls the tooth out, there’s some minor pain along with a bit of space where our tooth used to be and all that’s left to do now is wait for that spot to heal.

When a tooth is pulled out, a blood clot is formed around the hole in your gums where the teeth used to be to protect the spot from getting infected.

When this doesn’t happen, the place of extraction is called: dry socket.

The easiest way to identify it is by looking at the spot where the tooth used to be and checking whether or not the blood clot has formed. If you are able to see a hole (and the jaw bone), then there is a chance that it might be a dry socket.

Dry sockets can be painful and can, if left untreated, lead to some unpleasant side effects.

A dry socket pain doesn’t always begin right away. It can take several days before the pain begins. Most of the time, the pain starts small and gradually gets worse over time. Other times the pain can begin without warning and can be excruciating in which case you should seek an emergency dentist immediately.

What Causes Dry Socket?

Even with all the modern medicine and advancements made in dental science, it’s still not clear what is the exact cause of dry socket.

Experts believe that dry socket is more common with people who:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Chew tobacco
  • Take birth control pills
  • Have had a dry socket before

It is also believed that people who take poor care of their dental health are more likely to experience dry socket.

What Are the Risk Factors?

dry socket symptoms

When a tooth is extracted, it’s not uncommon to experience some mild pain at the extraction site.

The same rules apply to dry sockets, however, the pain tends to get worse if left untreated. It is also possible to have a dry socket and not experience any pain at all, at first.

The pain caused by dry socket can start to emerge a few days after the extraction.

Other than pain, an unattended dry socket can also lead to:

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Gum and mouth infections
  • Visible bone at the extraction site

How to Treat Dry Socket

You’ll be happy to know that dry socket is only a temporary condition if treated properly.

While the blood clot may not have formed shortly after the tooth has been pulled out, it will form over time with proper treatment.

Unlike bleeding gums, a dry socket doesn’t necessarily show visible traces of blood.

First, your dentist will thoroughly clean the dry socket from any food and other tiny particles that might be stuck there.

After that, your dentist will likely place a protective gauze or medicated gel (dressing) on the socket to protect it from outside influences. You will also receive instructions about what you can and cannot do until the dry socket closes.

If you are experiencing severe pain, you will likely be able to buy some over-the-counter medication to alleviate the pain.

If the dry socket is severe, your dentist will give you instructions on how to treat the area and how to even change the dressing.

How to Prevent Dry Socket

how to avoid dry socket

There are a few things you can do to increase your chance of not having a dry socket after tooth extraction.

You should do the following for a few days before the tooth extraction:

  • Stop smoking (if you are a smoker)
  • Stop chewing tobacco (if you chew tobacco)
  • Stop taking any medication that might prevent a blood clot from forming (blood medication)

You should also make sure that your teeth extraction is done by a professional dentist so it might be a good idea to look at a few reviews before booking an appointment.

An improperly extracted tooth is more likely to cause a dry socket.

After the extraction, you should listen to your dentist’s advice and apply proper dental hygiene and protect the extracted area.

You should:

  • Have a dentist place a protective gauze or medicated gel on the extracted area
  • Wash and clean the extraction area with an antibacterial mouthwash and oral gel
  • Rest properly after your tooth extraction surgery

Even with all of these in mind, a dry socket can still appear but you shouldn’t let it bother you. While it’s certainly a rare condition, even if you happen to experience it, it is usually only a temporary condition that can be remedied through proper treatment and oral care.