Avoiding Dry Socket After An Extraction

July 1, 2018

Extracting a tooth, or multiple teeth, is a dental process that generally goes smoothly and without many complications. However, one complication, called dry socket, is one you need to be aware of after a tooth extraction. Dry socket is when the blood clot, left behind to protect the hole in your mouth the tooth left behind, is dislodged or removed in some way. The hole then reveals nerves and bone and easily becomes infected. At worst, you may suffer severe pain that can spread up to your ear. Dry socket is somewhat more common in those who have had their wisdom teeth extracted. Fear not — dry socket can be avoided if you follow your dentist’s instructions carefully and keep the holes in your mouth clean.

Rinse With Salt Water

Sometimes after tooth extractions, and generally after wisdom teeth extractions, your dentist will recommend that you rinse your mouth gently with salt water after every meal. Do not neglect to do this, because salt water is an important healing source and will remove excess food that may have been caught in the holes. Dentists also recommend that you eat soft food, like applesauce and yogurt, for a day or two to avoid getting hard food stuck in the sockets.

Avoid Straws and Hard Brushing

The act of sucking through a straw when you have sockets that are healing can damage the sockets. The stitches in the holes may be pulled out, along with a clot. So when you enjoy your milkshake after your procedure, remember to eat it with a spoon. Additionally, when you brush your teeth, avoid brushing the sockets. That action can irritate the gums and the brushing movement can damage the clot and stitches.


Resting after a tooth extraction, especially wisdom teeth, is strongly advised for the first day or two. Rigorous exercise can dislodge the clot and result in dry socket. With wisdom teeth extraction, keep the gauze in your mouth to absorb excess bleeding and wait for it to end before undertaking any serious activity.

Dry socket is an unpleasant side effect from tooth extraction, but does not usually cause permanent damage. However, dry socket is easily avoided if you are vigilant about taking care of your mouth during your recovery process. Make an appointment if you see white in your sockets — that means bone may be exposed.  Overall, always listen to your dentist’s recommendations!