Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) is a dental condition that can occur following a tooth extraction if the wound at the sight of the extraction fails to heal properly. While the condition does not usually result in serious complications, it is extremely painful.
Serious cases of dry socket can lead to an infection of the jawbone, though thankfully, this is incredibly rare. Most instances of dry socket can be cleared up quickly with the proper treatment. Of course, it is best to take steps to prevent dry socket from occurring in the first place.
How Does Dry Socket Develop?
When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms over the wound to act as a protective barrier during the healing process. Dry socket occurs when this blood clot breaks apart prematurely, dissolves, or fails to form properly in the first place. This leaves the nerve endings and bone in the empty tooth socket exposed, often resulting in acute sensitivity.
People who develop dry socket typically report severe radiating pain in the jaw or face at the site of the tooth extraction. There is also the risk that a gum infection or abscess will form because of food or bacteria entering the exposed tooth socket.