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Dry Socket

Condition Basics

What is dry socket?

Dry socket is an inflammation of the jawbone after a tooth, such as a wisdom tooth, has been removed (extracted).

What causes it?

Dry socket develops when the blood clot at the site of surgery disintegrates or is dislodged. This condition can cause severe pain extending up to the ear. The socket may smell bad. The pain from a dry socket may last for several days.

How is it treated?

Dry socket usually is treated by a dentist or oral surgeon, who may place a special medicated gauze or paste into the socket. He or she may also have you take pain medicine.

How can you help prevent a dry socket?

To prevent dry socket, be sure to follow your dentist's instructions, which may include the following:

  • Do not smoke or suck through straws.
  • Do not rinse your mouth or disturb the socket area for at least 24 hours.
  • Change cotton gauzes over the socket as they become soaked with blood.

Call your dentist or oral surgeon if it's a few days after your surgery and you have severe pain around the area where your tooth was removed.

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Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Arden Christen DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry

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