What Are the Symptoms of Dry Socket?

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  • Written By: Natalie M. Smith
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Symptoms of dry socket include visible or tactile signs, such as an exposed hole in the mouth or swollen lymph nodes. Some patients also experience an unpleasant taste in their mouths or bad breath. As with many other health ailments, dry sockets might also cause severe pain at the site, which can radiate to nearby areas of the body.

A dental extraction, such as wisdom tooth removal, causes a blood clot to form over the extraction site. Dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, is a condition caused when the blood clot is removed, whether inadvertently or naturally, before the site has healed. Recognizing dry socket can be relatively easy, as the look of the condition often matches its namesake. The socket, or hole left in the bone after the extraction, might be dry and exposed, with the blood clot partially intact or missing altogether. Additionally, bone is sometimes visible in the socket.

Swollen lymph nodes might also be symptoms of dry socket. Lymph nodes swell in response to certain health conditions, and those around the jaw and neck might swell as a result of an infection in the mouth. Anything that enters the mouth can come in contact with or even become lodged in an exposed socket, making it prone to infection. An infection is often the cause of another symptom — severe pain.


After a tooth extraction, dental patients should expect to feel a certain amount of discomfort and pain for a few days. Pain that is severe, does not respond to prescribed medications, or lasts longer than a few days might be symptoms of dry socket. Dry sockets can also cause pain to spread to nearby areas, such as the ear, eye, and neck on the same side of the face as the extraction site.

Patients might also taste and smell symptoms of dry socket. The condition can cause a strange or unpleasant taste in the mouth. It might also emit a foul odor or cause bad breath.

Dry socket is the most common adverse side effect of tooth removal. Dentists recommend that patients follow their dentists' prescribed regimen after an extraction to prevent dry socket and other complications. They also recommend that patients who experience symptoms of dry socket seek professional attention, as at-home treatments do not resolve the issue. Fortunately, only a small percentage of dental patients develop the condition, and the process of treating dry socket is relatively short-term and mild.


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