Dry Socket

What causes a dry socket?

A dry socket is caused by the partial or total loss of a blood clot in the tooth socket after a tooth extraction. Normally, after a tooth is extracted, a blood clot will form as the first step in healing to cover and protect the underlying jawbone. If the blood clot is lost or does not form, the bone is exposed and healing is delayed.

In general, a dry socket is a result of bacterial, chemical, mechanical, and physiologic factors. Below are examples for each:

  • Bacterial: Preexisting infection that is present in the mouth prior to a dental extraction such as periodontal disease (or periodontitis) can prevent proper formation of a blood clot. Certain oral bacteria can cause the breakdown of the clot.
  • Chemical: Nicotine used by smokers causes a decrease in the blood supply in the mouth. As a result, the blood clot may fail to form at the site of a recent tooth extraction.
  • Mechanical: Sucking through a straw, aggressive rinsing, spitting, or dragging on a cigarette causes dislodgement and loss of the blood clot.
  • Physiologic: Hormones, dense jawbone, or poor blood supply are factors that prevent blood clot formation. Continue Reading
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Reviewed on 1/11/2016

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