Also called alveolar osteitis, which means inflammation of the alveolar bone. Dry socket sometimes occurs after a tooth is extracted and can be very painful. This usually occurs when a blood clot fails to form or is lost from the space left after the tooth is extracted. This leaves bone and nerves exposed to the mouth, causing a localized inflammation that consequently causes a lot of pain and delays healing. Only about 2-5% of people develop dry socket after an extraction.
The exact cause of dry socket is not known, but some people may be more likely to get dry socket. Factors that may increase the likelihood of dry socket are: Smoking, overly traumatic extraction, wisdom teeth (especially in the lower jaw), not following post-operative instructions and poor oral hygiene.
There are 3 signs and symptoms that identify a dry socket. These are a dry looking opening where bone is noticeable, severe pain and bad smell or taste. If you suspect dry socket, alert your dentist as soon as possible.
Dry socket is easily treatable by rinsing the site of the extraction and placing a special medicated dressing in the space. This dressing may be changed several times until pain in the area diminishes and site begins to heal. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed to help control the pain.