7 Symptoms of Dry Socket

Dry socket is a painful condition that happens when bone, nerves, and other delicate tissues in the gums and jaw are exposed to air, saliva, and other materials in the mouth. This commonly occurs after a dental procedure. When your teeth or gums are injured or operated on, they form a blood clot to protect the underlying tissues. Sometimes this clot dissolves or is displaced, causing a painful dry socket with exposed painful tissue. This pain can last as long as a week and feels sharp, hot, and excruciating. It is important to know the signs of dry socket so the condition can be treated by a dentist or doctor.

Dry socket most commonly occurs after a tooth extraction. Removing a tooth leaves a “socket,” or indentation in the gum and jaw where the tooth and roots once were attached. Around 2-5% of people will develop this condition at some point. Because blood clots protect tissues and help them to heal, this condition can be concerning. Having exposed and inflamed tissues is not just painful, but can also predispose people to infection and delay healing. The following seven symptoms of dry socket should always warrant a call to your health care or dental provider.

1. Jaw Pain

The fibrous covering of bones has a large number of nerve endings. When the bone of the jaw is exposed due to dry socket, these nerve endings are exposed. The result is jaw pain. This pain is often constant and throbbing. It can radiate to your ear, your eye socket, or even to areas of your skull. The pain can be worsened with moving the jaw, such as in eating or speaking. It may occur in the upper or lower jaw. Jaw pain is concerning because it indicates that the bone itself is exposed, which can lead to serious infections in the bone.