When a tooth is extracted, it leaves an opening in the jawbone. A dry socket is inflammation of this area which is painful and distressing. The formation of dry sockets is common after tooth removal and mostly occurs after a wisdom tooth extraction. So, what does a dry socket look like?

A dry socket looks like a hole in the bone from where the tooth was extracted. After a tooth extraction, blood clots form in the empty socket. The formation of the blood clot is essential to protect the bone and nerve from infections.

Sometimes the clot doesn’t form or gets dislodged or displaced a few days after surgery. Unfortunately, this can expose the jawbone and nerves to air, food, liquids, or anything else that you eat or drink. Exposure of blood clots can result in a dry socket that can delay the healing and cause severe pain lasting for 5-6 days.

What Causes a Dry Socket?

Here are some common causes of dry socket:

  • Mouth bacteria can damage the blood clot before its full formation and even prevent reformation
  • Food debris that accumulates in the empty tooth socket can dislocate the blood clot
  • The use of oral contraceptive pills can also dissolve a blood clot.
  • Sucking motions when using a straw or smoking can give you a dry socket
  • Rinsing or spitting aggressively can disturb the clot
  • Drinking alcohol aftera tooth extraction can also cause a dry socket

Symptoms of a Dry Socket

  • Severe tooth pain after removal that lasts 5-6 days
  • Pulsating pain radiating from the tooth socket and extending to the same side of extraction up to the ear, eye, or neck
  • Bad breath
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Slight fever

The following habits or actions can elevate the chances of dry socket

  • Previous history of dry sockets
  • Chewing or smoking tobacco
  • Drinking through a straw can disturb the clot
  • Complex tooth removal surgery
  • Not keeping your mouth clean
  • Drinking alcoholic or carbonated drinks can slow down healing
  • Birth control pills can delay healing and prevent clotting
  • Forceful rinsing and spitting can dislocate the blood clot

What Does a Dry Socket Look Like?

A dry socket appears as an empty hole in the place of the removed tooth. The exposed bone is visible from the socket. The opening may look dry and have a creamy white color, just like a bone.

Blood clotting happens on the empty socket and helps the surgery site heal by promoting the growth of new tissues. If a blood clot fails to develop, the bone, nerves, and raw tissues all get exposed.

Sometimes the bone underneath the socket is fully exposed, and other times bacteria or food particles may cover it. In the latter case, a dry socket can look like a black, green, or yellowish formation.

A dry socket is not always visible, and you may only see a hole after a wisdom teeth removal.

Treatment for Dry Socket

Aspirin or ibuprofen can relieve pain to some extent, but these OTC medications aren’t effective in every case. Your dentist can give you a stronger pain reliever to numb the area with local anesthesia.

A dental hygienist will clean the hole and remove any debris from the socket. The next step involves filling the socket with medicated paste or dressing to speed up recovery.

It would be best to visit the dental office after every few days to have the dressing changed out until the extraction site heals completely.

You may have to take antibiotics to prevent infections from damaging your socket. Your dentist may recommend rinsing your mouth with salt water or a special mouthwash to keep the bacteria out.

Taking Care Of Dry Sockets At Home

To care for the extraction site at home and prevent dry socket, patients should:

  • Take prescribed antibiotics and pain relievers.
  • Apply ice to the surgery site
  • Gently rinse your mouth with salt water to keep the bacteria away.
  • Apply clove oil to relieve pain
  • Eat soft and easy-to-chew foods until the socket heals. A few options include mashed potatoes, boiled veggies, soup, yogurt, smoothies, and eggs.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages, or hot liquids until the socket heals.
  • Don’t use a straw for drinking.
  • Also, say no to smoking for a few days.
  • Do not brush the surgery area for at least 7-10 days after the surgery.

Visit Your Dentist

If you have a dry socket, it’s advised to see your dentist right away. Schedule an appointment with Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics today.