Overview

Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) is a painful dental condition that sometimes happens after you have a permanent adult tooth extracted. Dry socket is when the blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction fails to develop, or it dislodges or dissolves before the wound has healed.

Normally, a blood clot forms at the site of a tooth extraction. This blood clot serves as a protective layer over the underlying bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket. The clot also provides the foundation for the growth of new bone and for the development of soft tissue over the clot.

Exposure of the underlying bone and nerves results in intense pain, not only in the socket but also along the nerves radiating to the side of your face. The socket becomes inflamed and may fill with food debris, adding to the pain. If you develop dry socket, the pain usually begins one to three days after your tooth is removed.

Dry socket is the most common complication following tooth extractions, such as the removal of third molars (wisdom teeth). Over-the-counter medications alone won't be enough to treat dry socket pain. Your dentist or oral surgeon can offer treatments to relieve your pain.

Jan. 25, 2017
References
  1. Dry socket. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/dry-socket. Accessed Nov. 15, 2016.
  2. Akinbami BO, et al. Dry socket: Incidence, clinical features, and predisposing factors. International Journal of Dentistry. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijd/2014/796102/. Accessed Nov. 15, 2016.
  3. Postextraction problems. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/professional/dental-disorders/dental-emergencies/postextraction-problems. Accessed Nov. 15, 2016.
  4. Tarakji B, et al. Systematic review of dry socket: Aetiology, treatment, and prevention. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2015;9:ZE10.
  5. Hupp JR. Prevention and management of extraction complications. In: Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 15, 2016.
  6. Sharif MO, et al. Interventions for the prevention of dry socket: An evidence-based update. British Dental Journal. 2014;217:550.
  7. Daly B, et al. Local interventions for the management of alveolar osteitis (dry socket) (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006968.pub2/abstract. Accessed Nov. 17, 2016.
  8. Ramponi DR. Dental procedures. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal. 2016;38:228.
  9. Edens MH, et al. Intraoral pain disorders. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2016;28:275.
  10. Fenton DA, et al. Perioperative strategies for third molar surgery. Atlas of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2012;20:25.
  11. What to do following an extraction. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/routine-treatment/what-to-do-following-an-extraction. Accessed Nov. 30, 2016.
  12. Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 4, 2016.