Dry Socket

socket1Visiting the dentist can be stressful especially if you need a tooth extracted. While most extractions are performed without complication, once in a great while something unexpected may occur. Today, your Livonia, MI dentist, Dr. James Stewart, explains the occurrence of dry socket.

What is a Socket?

Your tooth socket is the indention, or hole, in your jaw bone where your tooth is seated. Your tooth is held in the socket via gum tissue and periodontal ligaments. When the tooth is extracted the hole remains empty. Essential to the healing process, a blood clot forms in the socket protecting the nerves and bone, and also provides a foundation for the growth of new bone and tissue at the extraction site.

Dry Socket

If the blood clot becomes dislodge or dissolves too soon after extraction of the tooth, it is referred to as dry socket. The unprotected socket is exposed to air, fluid, food, bacteria, etc., which can lead to infection.  Some people are at higher risk for dry socket including:

  • Smokers
  • Those with poor oral hygiene
  • People who take certain medications such as birth control pills
  • People with a history of dry socket

Symptoms of Dry Socket include:

  • An empty looking or “dry” socket
  • Visible bone at the socket
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Pain developing within a few days
  • Pain that radiates to your ear


For pain you can take aspirin or ibuprofen. Your doctor may prescribe something stronger or anesthetize the area. Your dentist may flush the socket of any debris that may cause pain or infection and pack the socket with a medicated paste or dressing to relieve pain and promote healing. Your dentist may also prescribe an antibiotic and/or recommend a saline rinse or medicated mouthwash.

About Dr. Stewart

James R. Stewart, Jr, DDS, PC and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.