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Dry Sockets

Any socket in which a patient is having pain due to the loss of the blood clot thus exposing the bone to air, food, and fluids along with an offensive odor is known as a dry socket.  This often occurs two or more days after an extraction and can last about 5-6 days.  It is normal to have soreness and discomfort following an extraction.       
 
This condition exists when a blood clot is dislodged from the surgery site thus exposing the bone and fine nerve endings. The blood clot helps in the stopping of bleeding and lays the foundation or framework for new tissue and bone to develop over a two-month healing process.  This condition is more common in the mandibular area and in back teeth due to poorer circulation in this area, with wisdom teeth being the most common site.  Dry socket delays the healing process.

 

Who gets dry sockets?

 

Women tend to get dry socket more than men. Patients over 30 are more susceptible. There are some activities which may increase the propensity for dry socket formation and they are: smoking, drinking carbonated beverages in the first 24 hours after surgery, spitting or drinking through a straw in that same time period.  Often "dry sockets" occur for no particular reason at all.


How is a dry socket treated?

 

This is an exquisitely painful but otherwise relatively harmless situation. There are packing materials which we can place to help ease the discomfort both by physically blocking the wound and by the action of the chemicals in the pack on local nerve endings. Once the dressing is applied the patient will have relief within 5-10 minutes.  We often prescribe pain medication to manage the symptoms. Time and good oral hygiene usually resolve the situation.