Complications From Tooth Extractions – Dry Socket

Most tooth extractions heal uneventfully, however, recovery can be greatly complicated by the dreaded dry socket.  A dry socket occurs when the blood clot that fills the socket becomes dislodged or never fully forms in the first place.  It is important after a tooth extraction to leave the surgical site undisturbed so that the blood clot has a chance to mature.  If one vigorously rinses their mouth out or puts negative pressure in their mouth by doing things like sucking through a straw or drawing in cigarette smoke, the blood clot can easily come out.  The result is a hole in the gums – hence the term “dry socket”.  Another big factor is smoking.  The nicotine will constrict blood vessels making it difficult for a proper blood clot to form, Making one more susceptible to a dry socket.

When a dry socket does occur, you will know it. After three to four days following the extraction, an intense pain will occur.  There will be no redness or swelling, like with an infection.  You can try to control the pain with an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, but it is best to call your dentist.  Although a dry socket is not life threatening, it still is extremely painful and your dentist can help relieve the pain.  Plus, it would be good that the dentist can rule out more serious problems.  If it is a dry socket, then the dentist will flush out the debris from the socket, then place a medicated packing in the area for one week to ten days.  The dry socket should be healed by that time and the packing can be removed.