What Does Dry Socket Look Like (A Complete Guide)

What Does Dry Socket Look Like (A Complete Guide)

Have you ever developed a severely painful condition after tooth extraction and had to return to the dentist in an emergency. I have given a complete guide to such a condition which is a dry socket from tooth extraction.

What Is A Dry Socket ?

Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) is a dental emergency after tooth extraction. It occurs when a blood clot fails to form or gets dislodged after tooth extraction. Without the clot, your bone and nerves become exposed, leading to dry socket.

Dry socket causes severe pain and increases the risk of severe infection. Treatment usually given is by placing medicated gauze in the socket to ease your discomfort.

Dry socket occurs in approximately 1 to 6% of all extractions and up to 35% of wisdom tooth extractions. Dry sockets recur more frequently in the lower jaw, patients older than 30 years, female patients, and in teeth that were infected before surgery.

Causes of Dry Socket?

After tooth extraction, the body creates inflammation. It causes mild swelling around the affected area. Platelets in the blood collect together to form a clot, which protects the wound by filling it.

The empty tooth socket is unprotected if this clot disintegrates, becomes dislodged, or does not form. It increases the risk of intense pain due to the exposed nerves in the socket.

Researchers have claimed that women have a greater tendency to develop dry sockets. It is probably due to estrogen, as the hormone may dissolve blood clots. 

  • Bacterial – If you are suffering from periodontal disease or have an infection in your mouth, the bacteria break down the blood clot, leading to a Dry Socket.
  • Trauma due to a complicated extraction, like an impacted wisdom tooth
  • Chemical – Certain medicines and nicotine can decrease your body’s ability to form and maintain a clot.
  • Mechanical – Sucking, through a straw or on a cigarette, or spitting, can dislodge a blood clot.
  • Food particles that can collect inside the socket and dislodge a blood clot
  • Oral contraceptive pills and menstrual hormones may increase the risk of dry sockets.
  • Physiologic factors, such as a poor blood supply or a dense jawbone can prevent an initial blood clot formation.
  • Alcohol and carbonated beverages can also dissolve a blood clot.

How Does the Dry Socket Look Like?

Dry socket is not always visible, particularly at the far back of the mouth or molar teeth. If the extraction site is visible, few signs of dry socket can be seen. A healthy socket is a hole with a noticeable blood clot in the center.

If your socket appears white, you may see exposed bone and have lost the blood clot. In cases where bacteria or infection causes the clot to dissolve, it looks like a black, green, or yellow socket.

Dry Socket Symptoms

Symptoms of dry socket may include:

  • Severe pain can start 3 to 5 days after tooth extraction.
  • Throbbing pain radiates from the socket and extends up to the ear, eye, temple, or neck on the same tooth extraction side.
  • Bad smell coming from the wound, which may lead to bad breath.
  • Slight fever

Dry Socket Risk Factors 

Factors that can increase the risk of developing dry socket may include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use. Cigarettes or other forms of nicotine may prevent healing and contaminate the wound site. 
  • Improper at-home care. Failure to follow home-care instructions and poor oral hygiene may increase the risk of dry sockets.
  • Dry socket in the past. You’ve had a dry socket, and you’re more likely to develop it after another extraction.
  • Tooth or gum infection. Current or previous gingivitis around the extracted tooth increases the risk of dry socket.

Potential Complications of dry socket?

Painful, dry socket rarely results in any further serious complications. However, potential complications may include delayed healing of or infection in the socket or progression to chronic bone infection (osteomyelitis).

Ideal Treatment of Dry socket ?

A dry socket is treated by a dentist or an oral surgeon and typically consists of the following steps:

  1.  The extraction site is cleaned with sterile saline (saltwater), and the socket is scraped to promote blood flow.
  2.  The socket is filled with medical dressings. It prevents new food particles and debris from entering the extraction site.
  3. After the dressing is placed, the patient must visit the dentist regularly to have it changed during the healing process. 
  4.  The dentist may prescribe antibiotics, pain killers, a mouthwash, and irrigation solutions to assist in healing. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers.
  5. Gently rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water a few times a day and after meals. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes, as they increase the risk of dry socket.
  6. Apply ice to the jaw
  7. you can also Apply clove oil to the extraction site for pain relief 
  8. Soft foods should be taken until fully healed.
  9. Smoking or drinking alcohol should be avoided till appropriately healed.


When can I stop worrying about dry socket ?

Most of the time, dry sockets develop within 3–5 days after surgery. So as the time increases, the likelihood of developing a dry socket lowers.

For standard tooth extractions, complete recovery takes at least two weeks. However, surgical extractions take much longer to heal. Once the wound is healed completely, there is no risk of dry socket.

Can I have a dry socket with no pain?

For most patients, the main symptom of a dry socket is severe pain. However, pain tolerance and perceptions may differ. Therefore, some patients may experience less pain than others.

How long do dry sockets last?

Once a dry socket has set in, it usually takes about 7 to 10 days for the extraction site’s healing process to create new granulation tissue, which starts to cover and protect the socket’s exposed bone. As this process advances, you can expect your symptoms to begin to subside.