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Dry Socket 


Dry socket is a condition that can develop after a tooth is removed.  Normally, a blot clot forms in the space where your tooth was at to protect the area while it heals.  A dry socket results when a blood clot does not form or if the blood clot becomes loose and falls out.  Without protection from the blood clot, your jawbone is exposed to air and the socket can fill up with food debris.  Dry socket can be extremely painful.  You should contact your dentist for treatment if you develop the symptoms of dry socket.

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Symptoms of dry socket may begin a few days after you had a tooth removed.  Dry socket can cause extreme pain.  The pain may be constant and throbbing.  It may spread to your ears.  The infected area may swell.  Dry socket can cause a bad taste in your mouth and bad breath.

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Your dentist can diagnose dry socket by examining your gums.  Your dentist will look to see if your jawbone is exposed.  Your dentist will test your socket to see if it is sensitive to touch.  X-rays may be taken to determine if fragments of your tooth or bone are in the socket.

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Your dentist can treat your dry socket by numbing the affected area and then gently flushing it with a warm liquid solution.  Your dentist will carefully pack the socket with a dressing containing antibiotic, antifungal, and pain-relieving medication.  The dressing prevents food and debris from building up in the socket while it heals.  Eventually, your gums absorb the dressing.  Your dentist will prescribe pain-relieving medication as appropriate.  Your dentist will review your progress until the socket has healed.  A dry socket can take one or more weeks to heal.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit