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What is Dry Socket?

June 9, 2020

We get questions about dry socket all the time. What is dry socket? A lot of people know that buzz word because it's not a fun thing when it happens and it's a fairly common thing in lower wisdom tooth extractions especially. It can happen with any extraction, but that's where we see it most commonly.

So, to give you a very basic example, if you skinned your knee, the blood clot that forms and stiffens there is called a scab - in your mouth, we call it a blood clot. The same thing happens when a tooth is extracted - blood fills in and hardens and that's part of the healing process. However, if you do something to dislodge that clot in the first few days when it's fairly fragile, we leave exposed bone in the mouth that is very, very painful and it's called dry socket. It's a thing that we do see sometimes, but fairly rarely especially because here at Atlanta Dental Spa do lots of extra little tricks to try and make sure that you don't have that experience.

How can I prevent dry socket?

Basically, the way you can prevent it is listen to instructions, but most importantly, avoid things that change suction or pressure in your mouth such as sucking on a straw, so if you go home and have a milkshake or a smoothie, that's great - just eat it with a spoon or drink it out of a cup. The straw's heavy suction pulling against that fragile blood clot in those first few days could disrupt it. Same thing goes with heavy rinsing, swishing, spitting, or anything else that may change pressure in your mouth or elevates your blood pressure such as working out or heavy lifting. Those are things that can push the clot from below. We want to do anything we can to make that pressure stay as normal it can in the mouth and not disrupt that early clot.

When might dry socket symptoms occur?

Typically, you're going to see symptoms of dry socket around day three or four, but it is a rapid onset of very, very high discomfort. It hurts a lot. Peak inflammation also happens around day three or four, so it's okay and normal and part of the natural healing process to have a slight uptick in discomfort on day three or four after any kind of extraction, but if it's extreme you may want to come talk to your dentist and see what's going on. If it's dry socket, there is a helpful medicament that we can put down in there to help it soothe and feel better. If you listen to our instructions and come to Atlanta Dental Spa, we pull out lots of stops to do extra little tips and tricks that can make that not happen.