Also called as alveolar osteitis, dry socket is a dental condition that occurs when a tooth is permanently extracted. It commonly occurs after the removal of wisdom teeth or third molars. Dry socket happens when there is no blood clotting at the site of the tooth extraction. Blood fails to clot because it either dissolves or dislodges before the wound at empty tooth socket heals. This exposes the bones and nerve endings leading to pain at the extraction site and in the facial areas surrounding the empty socket, which becomes inflamed after a few days.
What does a dry socket look like and feel like?
If you have had one of your third molars extracted, you might be at a risk of suffering from dry socket. Here are a few obvious signs that indicate a dry socket:
- An intense pain develops near the empty tooth socket two days after an extraction. The pain becomes intense and severe if left untreated. The pain radiates to ear, eye, neck, and temple and can affect the whole face as well since the nerve endings are affected the most. Pain is experienced on the side where the tooth has been extracted.
- There can be a partial or complete loss of blood clot from where the tooth was extracted. On close examination, you will know what does a dry socket look like. The extraction site would appear as an empty-looking or dry socket with bones and nerve-endings visible.
- A foul and unpleasant taste lingers in the mouth. There might be bad breath as well. This is because food particles get stuck in the dry socket. Due to the pain, it becomes difficult to clean the area and remove the food debris. This not only aggravates the pain but also causes bad breath and brings about an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- Pus may develop in the extraction site due to the absence of blood clots. Blood clots form a protective layer on the empty socket. This protective layer prevents infections and helps the healing process to progress faster. In the case of dry socket, the protective layer is absent which may lead to the formation of pus. Pus can also be the cause of bad breath and unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- Once you know what does a dry socket look like, you will know that the nerve endings in the dry socket are exposed to food and saliva. This may result in swelling on the side of the face where an extraction was done.
There are no over-the-counter treatments for dry socket. It is necessary to consult a dentist immediately to prevent the debilitating effects of the dry socket from aggravating.