Dry Socket, also known as dento-alveolar osteitis,
alveolar osteitis, alveolitis, focal osteomyelitis without
suppuration, alveolalgia, alveolitis sicca dolorosa and
alveolar periostitis, is a well-recognised complication
of tooth extraction.
It is characterised by increasingly severe pain in and around
the extraction site usually starting on the 2 – 4 post-
operative day and can last for 10 – 40 days.
The pain radiates typically to the ear. The normal post-
extraction blood clot is absent from the tooth socket; the
bony walls of the socket are bare and exquisitely sensitive
to even gentle probing. Bad breath and an unpleasant
taste in the mouth are invariably present.
The condition probably arises as a result of a complex
interaction between surgical trauma, local bacterial infection
and various systemic factors.
The incidence rate probably lies somewhere between 3 -
20% of all extractions with lower pre-molar and molar
sockets most commonly involved.
|Prevention & Management of
|Photograph of Dry Socket in the socket of the Upper Left
- Extraction of ‘wisdom teeth’ especially impacted
lower ‘wisdom teeth’.
- Traumatic & difficult extractions.
- Oral / depot contraception.
- Immunosuppressant drugs such as steroids,
cyclosporine & methotrexate.
- Active / recent history of Acute Ulcerative Gingivitis
(‘Trench Mouth’) or Pericoronitis (infection /
inflammation around the crown of a tooth)
associated with the tooth to be extracted.
- Smoking (> 20 cigarettes per day).
- Increased bone density either locally or generally
(e.g. Paget’s Disease & Osteopetrosis).
- Previous history of ‘dry sockets’ following extractions.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES FOR THE PATIENT
- Wherever possible pre-operative oral hygiene
measures to reduce plaque levels to a minimum
should be instituted, such as using an antiseptic
- Patients who smoke should stop before the tooth
extraction and for at least two weeks post-extraction
whilst the socket(s) heals.
- Patients should avoid vigorous mouth rinsing for the
first 24 hours post extraction and to use gentle tooth
brushing and mouth rinses for 7 days post-extraction.
- Patients should return to the Oral Surgeon / Dentist
immediately they develop increasing pain from the
extraction socket, awful taste in the mouth or bad
DRY SOCKET TREATMENT
- The infected socket is gently irrigated with an
- The socket is packed with a dressing that contains
sedative and antiseptic ingredients. The dressing
prevents the accumulation of food debris in the
extraction socket, protects the exposed bone from
local irritation and calms down the inflammation-
infection within the extraction socket walls.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed or changed (if already
- Painkillers will still need to be taken until the effects
of the sedative dressing become apparent and the
infection has started to clear.
- If the pain does not settle within 48 hours, then get
back in contact with the Oral Surgeon / Dentist.
Useful Website & Article:
Management and Prevention of Dry Socket
J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2010. Clinical Concepts of Dry
|Last Updated 4th November 2010