Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Dry socket is a painful inflammation that can develop in the open
tooth socket of the jawbone after a tooth has been removed (extracted). Dry
sockets often develop after an extraction and are more common after extraction
of third molars (wisdom teeth).1
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.
Women tend to get dry socket more than men. And women who take birth control pills are twice as likely to get dry socket. This may be linked to the
hormone estrogen. Women who take birth control pills and who decide to have their wisdom teeth removed should
try to schedule the surgery for the end of their menstrual cycle (usually days
23 through 28). There seems to be less risk of dry socket during this
Dry socket usually is treated by a
oral surgeon, who may place a special medicated gauze
or paste into the socket and prescribe an
antibiotic. He or she may also have you take pain
To prevent a dry socket, be sure to follow your dentist's
instructions, which may include the following:
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.
CitationsMacleod DK (2007). Common problems of the teeth and
oral cavity. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 1864–1878. Philadelphia: Lippincott
Williams and Wilkins.Academy of General Dentistry (2008). Check menstrual calendar for tooth extraction. Available
September 2, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.