Evergreen Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Dry Socket

dry socket pain

Most people do not have complications after wisdom teeth extraction, recovering in a few days and returning to their routine. However, occasionally a patient will develop a dry socket, a painful condition that is easily treated.

What is a Dry Socket?

A dry socket is painful inflammation and irritation of the empty tooth socket when exposed to air and debris. While anyone having a tooth extracted can develop a dry socket, it is more common after wisdom teeth removal. After tooth extraction, a blood clot forms where the tooth is extracted. The blood clot protects the exposed nerve endings and prevents inflammation that could cause intense pain.

Preventing a Dry Socket

Evergreen Oral Surgery will provide detailed aftercare instructions for the first few days following wisdom teeth extraction. The best way to prevent a dry socket is to follow our instructions carefully. Several ways to reduce the chance of developing a dry socket include:

  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol for the first week, as alcohol encourages bleeding
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not use a drinking straw or suck on hard candies
  • When rinsing your mouth, do so gently and let the water drain out of your mouth instead of spitting
  • Avoid chewing near the extraction sites
  • Do not drink hot or carbonated drinks for the first 48 hours
  • We recommend a liquid diet for 24 hours, then a soft diet for several days
  • Do not probe the extraction site with your tongue
  • Avoid sticky, crunchy foods for two weeks

Symptoms of a Dry Socket

If you have a dry socket, you will know. While you will have some mild discomfort after extraction, a dry socket causes sharper, more intense pain. The throbbing pain usually develops three to four days after the extraction. Contact Evergreen Oral surgery immediately if you have the following symptoms four or more days after wisdom teeth extraction. We will see you as soon as possible and alleviate your pain.

  • Increased pain and swelling
  • The blood clot is dislodged.
  • Pain that radiates across the cheeks and jawbone, sometimes reaching the temple or eyes
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Exceptionally bad breath
  • Exposed bone at the extraction site
We're Here to Help!

Call us with any questions or concerns. Our caring and dedicated Oral Surgery team makes it their number one priority to give you a comfortable experience. We look forward to taking care of you!

Tacoma: 253-473-0651 Puyallup: 253-799-1525 Request an Appointment

When Does a Dry Socket Develop?

The most typical time to develop a dry socket is on the third or fourth day after extraction surgery, partly because patients aren’t being as conscientious about aftercare and the blood clot has shrunken slightly. However, a dry socket can develop at any point after your teeth are extracted.

Does Gauze Prevent Dry Sockets?

After your wisdom teeth are removed, your oral surgeon places a small gauze pad over the empty socket. Most patients do not develop a dry socket if they can keep the gauze in place over the extraction site. The gauze helps a blood clot to form and prevents the socket from being exposed to air or contamination by food debris. Keeping the gauze in place dramatically reduces the chances of developing a dry socket.

How Evergreen Oral Surgery Treats a Dry Socket

Contact our Tacoma Office at Tacoma Office Phone Number 253-473-0651 or our Puyallup Office at Puyallup Office Phone Number 253-799-1525 if you suspect you’ve developed a dry socket. We will schedule as soon as possible, often on the same day, to treat it and reduce or eliminate your pain.

Flushing Out the Socket

Water is used to gently flush any debris from the socket to prevent possible infection.

Packing the Socket

Your oral surgeon packs the empty socket with a medicated paste or gel and sterile dressing. Once the opening is filled and no air can reach the nerve endings, the pain subsides quickly.


Depending on the severity of the pain, we may prescribe a pain relief medicine to keep you comfortable until the inflammation and irritation have subsided. We may also prescribe an antibiotic to treat or prevent infection.


You may need to continue caring for the socket at home by flushing it gently with warm salt water or a medicated rinse to keep the site clean and free of debris. We provide the necessary tools, including a syringe and detailed instructions.

What to Do if You Have a Dry Socket

The most important thing to do if you suspect you have a dry socket is to contact our office. We strive to get all emergency patients on the same day. We will clean and treat the socket to prevent infection and reduce or eliminate your pain. Do not ignore a dry socket, as it can lead to an infection. Fortunately, very few patients develop a dry socket if they follow their post-op care instructions.

If you have symptoms of a dry socket, call our Tacoma Office at Tacoma Office Phone Number 253-473-0651 or our Puyallup Office at Puyallup Office Phone Number 253-799-1525 immediately and tell our staff that you suspect a dry socket and are in pain. They will schedule you for immediate treatment by one of our oral surgeons.