After the dentist pulls your tooth, a blood clot usually forms in the hole that is left behind. However, the blood clot can dissolve or become disconnected, exposing the underlying nerves and bone. This exposure is called dry socket; it can result in debilitating pain, and in a few days, infection. Fortunately, a trip to the dentist can solve both problems.

Having a tooth pulled is never pleasant, and you should expect some discomfort. But if it has been two days since the extraction, and the pain is getting worse, you could be suffering from dry socket.

Do I Have Dry Socket?

If you have any of the following symptoms, you could have dry socket:h

  • Increasing pain that starts about two days after your tooth is pulled
  • Bad breath
  • An opening that appears dry with a white bone rather than a dark blood clot

It is always best to consult with your oral surgeon if you suspect you have dry socket.

Can I Prevent Dry Socket?

If you smoke, drink through a straw, rinse often or spit frequently after your surgery, you’re at higher risk of dry socket – so try to avoid these behaviors. Other behaviors and situations, such as using birth control and having complications during surgery, can put you at greater risk of dry socket.

Talk with your dentist if you think you’re at risk of dry socket. Together, you and your dentist can develop a prevention plan. Always be sure to read the aftercare guidelines for tooth extractions.

How Can My Dentist Help Me?

If you have dry socket, your dentist will help you control the pain by prescribing an antibiotic or suggesting an over-the-counter painkiller. He or she will also help you avoid infection by dressing the hole, and in some cases, prescribing antibiotics.

While tooth extraction isn’t the most pleasant feeling in the world, it doesn’t have to be excruciating. If you think you have dry socket, minimize your pain and risk of infection by going to the dentist right away.