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Dry Socket

Dry Socket Facts

  • A dry socket is a fairly common complication of tooth extraction characterized by severe pain.
  • It occurs when the tooth socket loses the blood clot that forms after a tooth is extracted and the bone inside the socket becomes exposed.
  • It is one of the most painful dental problems one can experience. A dry socket is also referred to as alveolar osteitis.

What causes dry socket?

The blood clot that forms after tooth extraction is essential for optimal healing of the underlying tissue. Destruction or loss of the blood clot prevents normal healing and causes alveolar osteitis. There are a variety of reasons why the initial blood clot could be lost or destroyed prematurely. The body reacts to local infection and inflammation, trauma, bacteria, and estrogen to destroy the blood clot, leaving an exposed socket. So it is important to minimize these risk factors as much as possible.

How often does dry socket happen?

A dry socket will occur in only a small percentage of tooth extractions, but it becomes much more common in the extraction of lower (mandibular) wisdom teeth.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016

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QUIZ: Learn about good dental health

The best way to prevent dry socket is to avoid needing a pulled tooth. The best way to keep your teeth healthy it to practice good oral hygiene.

Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or dental caries.

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