While only about 3% of patients develop a dry socket after having their wisdom teeth removed, it’s still an uncomfortable and painful issue that’s worth avoiding. Here are the causes, risks, and treatments for wisdom teeth dry sockets. 

Wisdom Teeth Dry Socket

The “socket” is the hole in the bone left after a tooth is extracted. Typically, when you get your wisdom teeth pulled, a blood clot forms in the socket where the pulled tooth used to be. This blood clot serves as a protective covering to the bone and nerves located in the socket.

In some cases, the protective blood clot can dissolve or dislodge shortly after the extraction. When this happens, the bone and nerve in the socket are exposed to air, food, beverages and more which can cause increased sensitivity. A dissolved or dislodged blood clot may also lead to an infection that can last up to a week.

What to Avoid

If you want to lessen your chances of a dry socket, avoid these substances/activities:

  • Tobacco
  • Hard to eat foods like popcorn or nuts
  • Hot foods
  • Straws
  • Chewing gum
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Alcohol

Risks

The most common cause of dry sockets is wisdom teeth removal. You’re more likely to suffer from a wisdom teeth dry socket if you fail to follow the correct aftercare instructions given to you by your doctor. If your extraction caused significant trauma, you should be extra careful and aware of a dry socket forming. You should refrain from movements like spitting, smoking and drinking through a straw post-procedure. 

If you’re on any medications, check with your dentist before your wisdom teeth extraction. Medications, even birth control, can interfere with how the blood clot forms. If you have a tooth or gum infection around the extraction site, you may be at greater risk of having a wisdom teeth dry socket. 

Wisdom Teeth Dry Socket: Treatments

At home, you can find relief through pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. However, you should inform your doctor and keep them in the loop. Sometimes, it’s necessary to see your dentist for a cleaning. Your doctor will clean the socket (do not attempt to clean the affected socket at home), remove debris from the area, and cover the socket with a medicated dressing. 

If you feel you may have a dry socket, an infection, or any other complications after your extraction, please stay safe by contacting your doctor.