How to Deal With a Dry Socket

Dry sockets are painful infections that can occur after having a tooth pulled. If you smoke, take birth control pills or practice poor oral hygiene, you may be more susceptible to this infection. The dry socket forms due to a blood clot (meant to protect the bone and nerves) dissolving or dislodging too soon after the extraction -- leaving the socket exposed to food, liquid and air. If you develop a dry socket, there are several ways you can treat the pain and help promote healing.

Dry sockets can occur after a tooth extraction.
Dry sockets can occur after a tooth extraction. (Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • OTC anti-inflammatory medication
  • Salt water
Step 1:

Alleviate the pain with an over-the-counter, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicine found at most drugstores. Aspirin or ibuprofen are common anti-inflammatory drugs that can help lessen the pain of a dry socket. Take as instructed on the label.

Take aspirin for pain.
Take aspirin for pain. (Veniamin Kraskov/iStock/Getty Images)
Step 2:

Gargle with salt water after meals to prevent more food and liquid from lodging in the socket.

Gargle. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
Step 3:

Visit your dentist to have the socket cleaned and treated with medicated dressing. Your dentist may recommend returning every day to have the dressing changed until the socket is healed.

Visit dentist.
Visit dentist. (Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)
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Tips & Warnings

  • Dry sockets usually occur within two days after a tooth is pulled.
  • Avoid sucking motions with your mouth, such as drinking through a straw, after a tooth extraction.
  • Avoid tobacco products one to two days before and after an extraction.
  • Ask your dentist for stronger medication if over-the-counter drugs are not enough to alleviate the pain.
  • See your dentist immediately if you think you may have a dry socket. Untreated dry sockets generally result in severe pain that can extend to your ear.



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