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Dry Socket in Children


Dry socket is a painful condition that develops 1 to 3 days after a permanent tooth has been removed. It happens when the blood clot at the site dissolves and exposes your child's jawbone. Dry socket usually lasts only a few days. Your child may have a more serious condition if signs and symptoms continue for a week.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child's swelling is so bad that he or she cannot close or open his or her mouth.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child continues to have pain even after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


  • Antibiotics may be prescribed if your child has an infection.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

What you can do to help your child manage or prevent dry socket:

  • Apply ice to your child's jaw. Ice helps relieve pain and swelling. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Wrap a towel around it before you apply it to your child's jaw. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Have your child rinse with a chlorhexidine mouthwash before and after tooth removal. Ask your child's healthcare provider where you can find an oral solution with chlorhexidine.
  • Talk to your adolescent about not smoking. Nicotine in cigarettes and cigars can prevent your adolescent's blood from clotting properly. Ask his or her healthcare provider for information if he or she currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your adolescent's healthcare provider before he or she uses these products.

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

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

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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.

Learn more about Dry Socket in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.