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Dry Socket


A Dry Socket is a reasonably common complication associated with wisdom tooth extractions.

A Dry Socket occurs when the Blood Clot which forms in the tooth socket after extraction is NOT properly retained, and becomes dislodged.

Since this clot is an important factor in protecting the bony socket and initiating the healing process, the healing is interrupted and delayed.

Dry Socket - 1


The exact pathogenesis of a dry socket is yet to be determined.

There are, however, several contributing factors that have been suggested, which seem to place some dental patients at greater risk.

Patients who do not follow their surgeons post operative instructions, have a greater incidence of dry sockets. Smokers have a higher risk of dry socket.

To help prevent a dry socket it is very important to follow the guidelines below

  • Good oral hygiene is extremely important
  • Avoid mouth washes/rinses in the first 24hrs
  • Avoid sucking a straw
  • Do NOT smoke for at least 48 hours post extraction
  • Do NOT drink hot liquids such as coffee, tea, soup etc
  • Avoid strenuous exercise and physical stress
  • Do NOT spit. Spitting creates negative pressures in the mouth tht can dislodge the blood clot in the socket


With most dental extractions, a patient will experience some level of pain and discomfort on the first 3-4 days following the procedure.

With each day the patient should feel less and less pain as the healing process progresses.

When a dry socket forms, the patient typically notices that their level of discomfort does progressively diminish for the first few days, but then, between 4-6 days the pain begins to intensify.

The pain can be very severe with a throbbing component that may radiate from the extraction site to adjacent areas for example the eye or ear. Additionally the patient may notice a foul odour and taste and enlargement of the lymph nodes of the neck.


There is no treatment for a dry socket. It is a self limiting condition that will improve and disappear in time.

The pain may last for 7-10 days. Additional analgaesics are often prescribed, but are not always effective. Placement of a sedative dressing often helps with pain relief, but is, unfortunately only temporary.

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