Do You Have Dry Socket?

Alveolar osteitis, better known as dry socket, is an uncomfortable dental condition deriving from an oral surgery, called tooth extraction. After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in the socket as a part of the body’s healing process. The clot develops as a protective layer for underlying bone and nerves, and it is the foundation for future growth of bone and surrounding soft tissues. If this clot is dislodged, or dissolves prior to healing, a dry socket occurs. If discomfort arises at the site of extraction 3-4 days after the procedure, dry socket may be the cause. If you have had a tooth extraction and are experiencing what you believe to be dry socket, Dr. Hofkes in Cerritos, CA can provide you with the care you need to relieve the discomfort and ensure good oral health.

Symptoms and When to See Your Dentist

Discomfort and some pain should be expected after a tooth extraction, but if you experience any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hofkes:

Severe pain 3-4 days after tooth extraction

Empty looking socket, meaning partial or total loss of clot from socket

Able to see bone in the socket

Radiating pain from socket to ear, eye, temple, or neck, occurring on the same side of face as tooth extraction

Bad breath or offensive odor coming from your mouth

Unpleasant taste throughout mouth

Swollen lymph nodes around neck and jaw

Low-grade fever

Over-the-counter medication is usually adequate for pain management, but if you find the suggested medicine not strong enough, paired with any of the mentioned symptoms, it is time to see Dr. Hofkes. As your socket heals, the pain and discomfort should dissipate gradually. However, if this is not the case, Dr. Hofkes can evaluate and suggest treatment for your symptoms.


The socket will heal on its own, but alleviating symptoms is the main concern. The following treatments are available to reduce the pain and discomfort of dry socket:

Flushing the Socket: Dr. Hofkes will flush the socket with a salt rinse to remove any food particles or random debris that may have lodged in the socket.

Medicated Dressing: The dentist may opt to place a medicated dressing into your socket. Depending on how you’re healing, Dr. Hofkes will redress the socket accordingly. This treatment may require multiple visits to the office.

Pain Medication: Dr. Hofkes will discuss pain medication options with you. Over-the-counter pain relievers may not be strong enough. Dr. Hofkes may prescribe pain medication dependent on potential discomfort experienced.

At-home care: Your doctor may advise you on how to treat the dry socket at home. A water, salt water, or antibacterial solution will be used, and Dr. Hofkes will provide a curved nozzle syringe to apply the solution.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

As a trained professional in oral and maxillofacial surgery, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is certified to provide comfortable, safe dental surgery from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. Schedule an appointment for dry socket or tooth extraction treatment by calling: 562-584-4082 today!