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Dry sockets occur after tooth extraction and are closely associated with wisdom teeth removal. Once a tooth is extracted, a blood clot will form over the removal site in order to protect the underlying bone and nerves and aid in the healing process. However, these protective blood clots may be easily dislodged, causing a painful and uncomfortable sensation known as a dry socket. 

It’s important for patients to know how to properly take care of an extracted tooth in order to prevent something as painful as a dry socket, which can be avoidable if treated with the proper care.

How To Prevent Dry Sockets

In order to prevent a dry socket, the patient must ensure the blood clot over the affected site is not dislodged or disturbed. When the blood clot is dislodged, the underlying bone and nerves are exposed, causing an extremely sensitive and uncomfortable pain. However, there are a few preventative steps patients may take to help preserve the protective blood clot.

Patients should refrain from sucking, spitting, gargling or aggressive rinsing. Sucking from a straw and smoking are strongly discouraged by Dr. Ema and most dental surgeons since the sucking motion may force the blood clot out of the affected area. Generally, dental surgeons suggest patients do not smoke or vape for five to ten days after the procedure. For this reason, dentists report that dry sockets are more prevalent in smokers than non-smokers. 

Patients should stick to soft foods and drink lots of water. If you are a patient that is currently taking a form of birth control, please consult with your doctor beforehand. The estrogen found in birth control is known to interfere with the healing process. 

Additionally, Dr. Ema advises patients to move extremely slowly for at least 3-5 days after the extraction. Quick movements, even turning the head too quickly, can dislodge the blood clot. With that said, it is advised that patients are very gentle with their bodies following the procedure. Patients should avoid exercise entirely for at least 3-5 days. Following the extraction, it is a good idea for patients to sleep upright, allowing the blood clot to form and stabilize itself over the affected area. 


It’s common for patients to report a 10 out of 10 on a scale of pain when experiencing a dry socket. If you find that your latest tooth extraction has left you with a dry socket, we strongly suggest that you do not disturb, poke or touch the socket. It is best to stop and call your dental surgeon immediately. 

Dry sockets are very painful and require a visit to your dentist or dental surgeon. The dental professional will coat the area in medicated ointment and instruct you on how to do so at home. Generally, patients feel a massive wave of relief once this ointment is applied. However, it is important that the dental practitioner instructs each patient on how to properly apply the medication. The dry socket is very sensitive, and patients do not want to cause any further disruption to the area.

Lastly, your doctor may ask you to perform an extremely gentle warm salt water rinse to aid in healing. This can also be done by the patient at home.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the intense pain and discomfort of a dry socket, call Dr. Ema’s Chicago dental office today: (312) 435-0411.