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Will dry socket heal on its own?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 12, 2023.

Official answer


Dry socket is a condition that commonly develops in lower teeth after a tooth extraction, such as wisdom teeth extraction. After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms over the top of the extraction site to protect it during healing. Sometimes, this clot is accidentally dislodged before the socket heals which exposes the sensitive gum and bone tissue to air, foods, and foreign objects, which can lead to pain or sensitivity. Dry socket will heal on its own in most cases, but professional help from a dentist can speed up the healing process, lessen pain and discomfort, and reduce the risk of infection.

If you wish to treat dry socket at home it is important that you have a curved tip irrigation syringe so that you can gently flush out any food or debris trapped in the socket that will prevent healing. A water flosser is not suitable to use to irrigate the area because the stream of water it provides is too powerful and this can dislodge any remaining clot or irritate the area further. If you cannot go to the dentist for treatment ring them before you attempt home treatment. A dentist will be able to see the socket area better which allows for more thorough irrigation. They can also put a dressing in the socket that contains soothing ointments that will relieve pain and promote faster healing, and prescribe pain relievers.

Related questions

Who is more at risk of dry socket?

Dry socket is more likely to happen to people who:

  • Do not irrigate the socket area after tooth removal frequently enough which allows food debris to collect
  • Chew using the treated area too soon
  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Drink carbonated beverages
  • Brush the area where the tooth was removed.

What are the symptoms of dry socket?

The most common symptoms of dry socket include:

  • Severe, throbbing pain around the socket
  • Pain that radiates up the ear, head, or neck as well as in the mouth
  • Bad breath, foul taste in the mouth that is strong and does not respond to oral hygiene
  • You may see bone inside the socket
  • Gray discoloration of the gums around the socket.

  • Irrigation instructions after wisdom tooth surgery. 2021
  • Assessing your smile for dry socket following tooth extraction. Oct 17, 2017.

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