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Dry Socket


A dry socket is a painful condition that develops 1 to 3 days after a permanent tooth has been extracted (removed). It happens when the blood clot at the site of the extraction dissolves, exposing your jawbone.



  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed if you have an infection.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your dentist within 2 days, or as directed:

Your dentist may need to change or take out the dressing. He will also check to see how your dry socket is healing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care for your dry socket:

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine in cigarettes may prevent your blood from clotting properly. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
  • Irrigate your dry socket if you do not have a dressing. Cleanse your dry socket with a chlorhexidine mouthwash to help remove dead tissue or food. Talk with your dentist about how to use a syringe to irrigate your dry socket. Ask him where you can find an oral solution with chlorhexidine.

Contact your dentist if:

  • You continue to have pain even after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your swelling is so bad that you cannot close or open your mouth.
  • You have trouble breathing.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.