Dry Socket Symptoms: 8 Signs You Should See a Dentist

BY Dr. McDowell  |  July 28th, 2022
Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

Whether you have good oral hygiene or a less-than-stellar smile, there may come a time in your life when you need to go under the knife for oral surgery. Modern oral treatments might remedy your mouth issues after healing the right way, but these procedures can also cause painful dry socket symptoms.

Even the most common kinds of dental procedures can be the cause of your painful dry sockets, such as:

Pain at the extraction site or in your tooth socket can be excruciating, so stay vigilant and look for symptoms of dry socket formation. Patients who hesitate to seek prompt treatment from their dentist after developing a dry socket risk dangerous infection and further issues down the line.

Keep reading to learn more about dealing with your dry socket problem with minimal pain.

What Is a Dry Socket?

dry socket symptoms up close graphic of empty tooth socket after extraction

If you have a tooth extraction or other oral procedure coming up, you might be concerned about experiencing the infamous and extremely painful symptoms of a dry socket. Dry sockets – or alveolar osteitis – occur when patients accidentally dislodge the blood clot that forms in empty sockets at an extraction site, potentially exposing soft tissue, bone, and nerves.

Certain people are prone to developing unavoidable pain at the extraction site due to predisposing factors, while others are at an increased risk for a dry socket issue from ignoring their dentist’s instructions. These are the patients that choose to pursue activities that disrupt the healing process in affected areas, often causing painful dry sockets.

While it’s not the most common complication these days, you’re most likely to develop dry socket pain from:

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The blood clot that forms provides a layer of protection from outside bacteria while also helping to promote healing inside your mouth. If that blood clot becomes dislodged, you’re more susceptible to developing dry socket symptoms.

Preparing for a Tooth Extraction

dry socket symptoms tools for tooth extraction with tooth

Any kind of oral procedure can seem scary, especially since there’s a slight risk of dry socket development, but don’t worry. You can take several steps or even seek preventative dental services to ensure your healing process goes smoothly. Make sure to:

Taking time to prepare before a tooth extraction can help prevent dry socket issues after your procedure.

8 Symptoms of Dry Sockets That’ll Send You Back to the Dentist

If the protective blood clot in your mouth becomes dislodged for any reason, a dry socket may form – and those never feel nice. Don’t be afraid to seek dry socket treatment if you notice some common symptoms, such as:

1.) Severe Pain

Whether it’s a difficult tooth extraction or a routine procedure, no patient is immune from experiencing the excruciating pain of a dry socket. Debilitating pain is the primary symptom of a dry socket, and although oral surgeries are always uncomfortable, it’s worsening pain that will likely be the first sign you notice.

dry socket symptoms close up of woman's smile in pain holding cheek

2.) Loose or Missing Blood Clot

As we already touched on above, clotting is required in the empty tooth socket to ensure proper healing after having a tooth extracted. When a clot gets dislodged, you’re like to develop dry sockets in the tooth extraction site.

3.) Exposed Bone

When blood clots get dislodged, the bone in your gum can get exposed. Examine your mouth with a flashlight and mirror to make sure your medicated dressing is in place and no underlying bone is visible in your empty socket.

4.) Mouth and Gum Sensitivity

If bones and nerves become exposed, you can become extremely sensitive to certain things, especially at the extraction site. Hot and cold food and drinks, or even the slightest touch, can send shooting pain through your mouth.

dry socket symptoms woman experiencing tooth pain after drinking hot tea

5.) Bad Breath

If bacteria gets into your exposed socket, there’s a chance for infections to develop. Mouth infections often lead to bad breath, which is a big indicator you have a dry socket.

6.) Excessive Bleeding

If you notice your medicated dressing repeatedly (and increasingly) becoming soaked with blood, you might have a dry socket. Patients with particular prescriptions should ensure there’s no risk for poor blood clotting to prevent dry socket problems.

Examples of medications to watch out for when having a tooth extraction include:

Drug interactions are nothing to ever mess around with, even if you’re having a routine wisdom teeth removal. Talk with your dentist or oral surgeon about any current prescriptions and have all possible contraindications clinically reviewed to ensure everything in your system can mix safely before surgery. This way, you won’t risk excessive bleeding at the surgical site that leads to a dry socket.

7.) Unpleasant Taste

Another common symptom of a dry socket is a bad or sour taste in your mouth. This can be one of the first signs of infection, so don’t let that smell linger without taking swift action. Swish warm salt water or a dentist-recommended rinse in your mouth gently before getting on the books at your local dental office.

8.) Bacterial Contamination

If you’ve noticed a foul smell or taste inside your mouth, the bacterial infection has likely already taken hold. Signs of bacteria, such as white, puss-like growths, indicate it’s time to give your dentist’s office a call because infections like sepsis can be serious or even life-threatening.

dry socket symptoms dentist performing tooth extraction on woman

Stop Suffering From Dry Sockets

Even with the best preventative dental services in Minnesota and intensive preparations prior to your procedure, there’s no surefire way to stop dry socket problems and ease pain after an extraction by yourself – but you’re not alone.

If you’re suffering from symptoms of dry socket post-op, stop agonizing in silence. Ask for help from the expert dental team at Wayzata Dental. We can’t wait to meet you!


How do I know if I gave myself a dry socket?

Severe pain after tooth extraction may indicate dry socket.

When is dry socket no longer a risk?

Dry socket risk decreases significantly after a week.

Will a dry socket heal on its own?

No, seeking dental treatment is necessary for healing.

Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..