Is Dry Socket a Dental Emergency?

If you suspect you have symptoms of a dry socket, you should call your dentist immediately. A dry socket is considered a dental emergency because it impedes your recovery from an emergency tooth extraction. Whenever you have a tooth taken out, there is a possibility of developing a dry socket.

The dentists at Emergency Dentist of Austin offer comprehensive aftercare instructions to help accelerate your recovery and avoid a painful dry socket.

What Is a Dry Socket?

A dry socket (Septic socket, Alveolitis, Alveolar osteitis) is a harrowing dental condition that can occur after you have your wisdom teeth or molars extracted. When a tooth is removed, a protective layer of blood clots develops in the extraction area to help your gums heal.

A dry socket happens when the protective layer of the clot doesn’t form appropriately or becomes dislodged. When this condition occurs, the underlying nerves and bones are exposed in the area where a protective blood clot should develop. An empty socket is also at a higher risk of accumulating food particles and bacteria, which can eventually lead to an infection.


The National Health Service (NHS) claims that a dry socket can occur 3-5 days after the tooth extraction. Common dry socket symptoms include bad breath, bad taste, slight fever, and severe pain in the extraction area.

You should call an Emergency Dentist of Austin if you experience one or more of these symptoms. Your dentist will ask you to return to the office for assessment and treatment. Depending on your situation, your dentist will treat your dry socket by:

  • Thoroughly cleaning the extraction site to flush out food particles and other materials.
  • Dressing the socket with a special medicated paste.
  • For most patients, symptoms will disappear within 24 hours following treatment. However, some patients may need daily appointments to have their dressing changed until the symptoms subside. Your dentist will advise you based on your recovery needs.
  • You may get a prescription for an anti-inflammatory to help alleviate discomfort.

Aftercare Instructions

After treatment, your dentist will provide aftercare instructions to care for your dry socket at home. These may include the following:

  • Keep your mouth clean with either saltwater rinse or antibacterial rinse
  • Take antibiotics and pain medicine as directed by your dentist
  • Avoid strenuous activities
  • Brush your teeth gently while avoiding the extraction site
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Avoid hard foods
  • Stop smoking or drinking alcohol if necessary

When to Call an Emergency Dentist in Austin

You should call your dentist right away if you think you have symptoms of a dry socket or increased pain that does not respond to pain medications. A bad taste or breath in your mouth could indicate infection, so you should call an emergency dentist for help.

The dental emergency team at Emergency Dentist of Austin is ready to handle your dry socket or any other dental issue you might have at any time. Please book an appointment online or call us at (512) 961-6200 to discuss your dental emergency needs with an experienced Austin emergency dentist, Dr. Sumit Kumar.