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What causes dry socket?

Dry socket is caused by the loss of a blood clot following a tooth extraction. A blood clot protects the bone and nerves in the empty tooth socket from contact with air, food, and liquids. When the clot is not there or does not form correctly, this causes significant pain. Doctors think other factors may also contribute, including bacterial infection, difficult extractions, and pieces of tooth or bone that remain in the socket after extraction.

I hear questions about dry socket, rather regularly. In the great majority of cases, removal of a tooth is a routine procedure, and is followed by a period of very little discomfort. In a small percentage (less than 5%) of cases, a dry socket may develop, which is usually quite painful. Causes seem to vary, but perhaps the most common is loss of the clot forming in the extraction site. This is usually caused by smoking during healing, and other forms of suction -- like using a straw. Consumption of carbonated beverages early in the healing process can also dissolve the clot. Follow post-op instructions carefully, to help make your experience as easy a possible.
Dry socket can sometimes occur following a tooth extraction. This is caused when the socket where the tooth once was is slow to heal. The condition can be very painful for three to five days or so.

Your dentist will advise you of what post extraction regimen to follow in order to help prevent this condition. The sucking motion of using a straw of smoking can dislodge the socket and delay the healing process. The dentist's treatment may also include cleaning the site.
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Dry socket is caused by a blood clot not forming properly, dissolving too quickly, or dislodging at the site of a tooth extraction before it has the chance to heal. After a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms at the site. The clot gives the bone and nerve endings a protective coating. However, in about 5% of people, the clot dissolves or dislodges, exposing the site of the extraction. Without the blood clot for protection, the nerve endings are exposed to food, liquids, and air, which can cause intense pain.

Researchers are not sure as to the precise causes of dry socket. They speculate that dry socket may be caused by bacterial contamination, high levels of estrogen in women, severe trauma at the extraction site, or tiny bits of bone or roots left in the gum after the extraction.

Continue Learning about Dry Socket

Dry Socket

Dry Socket

If you've just had a tooth extracted, particularly a wisdom tooth, you may start to feel a nasty pain a few days after the tooth extraction. Call your doctor or dentist to see if this is dry socket, a condition that can happen whe...

n the blood clot that is supposed to form in the socket where your tooth was gets dislodged. This will interfere with healing. Also known as alveolar osteitis, dry socket can cause pain not only where the tooth was but through the jaw and radiating to your ears. Learn more about preventing and treating dry socket with expert advice from Sharecare.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.