What is a dry socket?
Dry socket is a commonly used term for one relatively uncommon complication following tooth extraction. Following uncomplicated tooth extraction some discomfort is expected. When severe pain and a foul odor is present, dry socket is a possibility.
After a tooth is removed, it is normal for the hole (socket) left behind to fill with blood and clot. Many factors influence clotting time, including medications taken by the patient. The blood clot has a vital role in normal healing. The blood clot covers the exposed bone and provides a “scaffold” for the body to bridge the gap with hard (bone) and soft (gum) tissue. If this clot is not present / lost, the patient will typically experience severe pain beginning 2 – 3 days after tooth extraction. In addition healing time is prolonged.
Dry sockets do heal, they just take longer, smell worse and really hurt. The patient should return to the treating dentist to be evaluated. The common use of bisphosphonates (drugs used to treat osteoporosis and osteopenia) has created another type of abnormal healing after tooth extraction. The use of this class of drugs should be discussed with the treating dentist PRIOR to tooth extraction
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A