Procedure Instructions

Dry Socket

How Do I Know If I Have Dry Sockets?

Patients who develop dry socket typically complain of pain 3-4 days after surgery that is worse than it was initially.  This can be on only one side or both. They are more common in the lower jaw.  The pain often radiates to the ear or neck or other areas in the jaw.  It can also be accompanied by bad breath.  It is not an infection and is not accompanied by swelling, redness, or fever. You often cannot see a dry socket.  Discoloration of a healing site is normal. A normal clot will often appear white in the mouth as it matures.  The pain may keep you up at night and is often not fully treated by over the counter pain medicines.  If things were getting better after surgery and suddenly worsen, it may be a sign of dry socket.

​If you think you have developed a dry socket, then you probably have. The good news is that they are easily treated in the office. Medicine can be placed that will provide nearly complete pain relief in minutes.

​Symptoms of Dry Socket: Worsening pain, bad odor, bad taste

​NOT Symptoms of Dry Socket: Swelling, redness, fever, white color in socket, or stiffness of the jaw.

What Is a Dry Socket?

A dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, is a result of loss of the blood clot in an extraction site. Exposed bone in the extraction socket is painful until the tissue grows back to cover the bone. It occurs rarely in routine tooth extractions, and up to 15% in wisdom tooth extractions.

What Causes Dry Sockets?

Bacteria: The most common cause of dry socket is bacteria in the area dissolving the clot pre-maturely.  Antibiotic use does not significantly decrease the rate of alveolar osteitis as there are hundreds of types of bacteria in the mouth.  For that reason, even if you do everything you are supposed to, you may still develop dry sockets.

Mechanical: Sucking through a straw or cigarette, or aggressive rinsing and spitting can dislodge a clot early.

Smoking: Nicotine impairs healing and decreases new blood vessel formation.

Biologic: Oral Contraceptive pills and menstrual hormones have shown to have a small increase in risk for dry sockets.  Although small, that risk can be eliminated by having surgery during your menstrual cycle and being off oral contraceptive pills.

What are Other Risk Factors for Dry Sockets?

Dry Sockets are also more common in the lower jaw, wisdom tooth extractions, patients older than thirty years, and teeth that were infected before surgery.

What is the Treatment for a Dry Socket?

In Office Treatment:

​If you think you have developed a dry socket, call your surgeon.  They are easily diagnosed and easily treated.  A medicated strip of gauze will be placed inside the extraction site.  This will numb the area and relieve the pain within about 15 minutes.  This treatment lasts 24-72 hours and will usually be repeated a few times while the socket is healing.  This treatment controls the pain while the gum tissue grows over the exposed bone. This does not delay healing or help it heal faster. Dry sockets are not infection and are not treated with antibiotics.

Are There Any Home Remedies For A Dry Socket?

If you are unable to come into the office immediately, a few drops of clove oil placed into the extraction site can temporarily relieve the pain.  This will help alleviate the pain and can be placed several times a day if necessary or until you can get into the office. Your surgeon should still evaluate the site as soon as possible. Clove oil can often be found at pharmacies, health food stores, and even grocery stores.

How Long Does A Dry Socket Last?

Most dry sockets last 7-10 days. A small minority will last longer than a week.

Do I Have to Treat it?

If you choose not to have the socket treated, it will resolve on its own in the same amount of time as would if it were being treated.  Electing to not treat it will not delay healing or worsen the outcome.

How Can I Prevent Dry Sockets?

Most of the risk factors for dry sockets cannot be prevented.  However, there are a few things you can do to help decrease the risk:

  • After extraction avoid smoking, aggressive rinsing or spitting, and use of a straw.
  • Discontinuing oral contraceptive use, and using a different form of birth control before surgery, may help decrease the incidence slightly.

Remember, even if you do everything you can to prevent dry sockets they may still happen. However, if they do occur, they are easily and conveniently treated.

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5 of 5 stars of 167

Excellent oral surgeon. I had to have my wisdom teeth removed and was terrified. The staff at Archway were very professional and took care of me. Painless proceedure and I was in and out in a hour. highly recommended thank you very much!

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5 of 5 stars of 167

“…we were happy to find somoeone that was caring…we will never forget the care and concern you showed to our mother”

5 of 5 stars of 167

What can I say? No one likes to visit the dentist…especially for anything other than having their teeth cleaned. I am no different. Hated that I had to have a tooth taken out but it was necessary. I was referred here by my dentist to see Dr. Loveless. If I ever have to have anything else done from an oral surgeon, I would never wish to see anyone else. Dr. Loveless and his staff not only made me feel less anxious but they were super nice and made sure that I knew everything that was being done. I would refer them to anyone with complete confidence! If I could give them more than 5 stars, I would. I want to tell them all thank you for making this process much easier on me. Just an amazing staff and surgeon!!

5 of 5 stars of 167

Best oral surgery place! Everyone is so friendly & caring! They did a great job of making sure I was comfortable & the surgeon did an excellent job-they even gave me some Ted Drewes to bring home!

Deb M.
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5 of 5 stars of 167

The Staff was very helpful, Chrissy made my visit wonderful, she made me feel at ease and helped me to not be apprehensive. Dr. Loveless did a great job of extracting my tooth. I would highly recommend him and his staff.

5 of 5 stars of 167

My father had gone for a root canal the night before and a root fracture was discovered so the tooth could not be saved. We called the next morning to set up an oral surgery appointment and Dr. Loveless was able to accommodate him the same day. The staff explained everything in great detail regarding finances and post operative instructions. Dr. Loveless also discovered another area of concern and removed an additional tooth. This was extremely helpful since my dad is on blood thinners and we really wanted to avoid having to make two trips. Very clean office as well. Will recommend everyone we know to the practice.

5 of 5 stars of 167

I had a great experience at Archway. I went there to get four wisdom teeth removed. The office was clean. The staff was nice and efficient. Dr. Loveless was warm and the Spotify music was a nice touch. The procedure went through with no problems and I didn’t feel a thing. I received a post op call and great instructions. Overall, the experience exceeded my expectations after you hear all the horror stories regarding wisdom teeth removal.

5 of 5 stars of 167

We were headed to Florida when my son came down with an abscessed tooth. Dr. Loveless was able to get us in and remove his tooth before our flight. I can’t thank Laurie enough for making what could be a scary experience for my 7 year old, a fun, pleasant one. I can’t express how thankful I am for her treating him like her own and making sure he was comfortable. She went above and beyond in my eyes and made this nervous mom rest a little easier. Thank you both!!!

5 of 5 stars of 167

Very friendly staff. Doctor spent time to explain and answer questions. Easy to make an appointment. Easy to get a recheck. Staff and Doctor made themselves readily available for questions after surgery even during holidays.

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