Dry Socket vs Normal Healing: 5 Key Differences to Know

5 Key Differences Between Dry Socket and Normal Healing

Are you just planning to get a tooth extraction? But you don’t understand what happens during and after the extraction.

Many people find it confusing, especially when it comes to post-extraction complications. A dry socket is one such common complication that can be bothersome. 

When deciding on an extraction procedure, you might wonder about dry socket: what it is, how it heals, how it’s diagnosed, and what treatments are available.

But worry not, as knowing more about it can help you understand the procedure better and prevent this complication. 

Before we dig into the details, ensure you address all your extraction-related concerns and talk to your dentist about them.

If you struggle to find the right dental health professional, visit Palm Valley Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics and book your appointment now. 

What are the Outcomes of Tooth Extraction?  

Whenever a dentist pulls out a tooth from its position, it leaves behind a hole in the tooth bone known as the socket. 

Under normal circumstances, a blood clot forms in the socket, known as a normal socket. With the formation of blood clots, the post-extraction healing begins. 

However, in some cases, the blood clot doesn’t form or dislocate from its position before the wound heals. This is known as a dry socket, which exposes nerves and bones at the extraction site. 

According to stats, 3 out of 100 extractions result in dry sockets. A dry socket is a common side-effect of tooth extraction and hinders normal recovery. 

It usually appears as a toothache that doesn’t go away even days after the extraction. 

Read: What Can I Eat After Tooth Extraction?

Dry Socket vs Normal Healing – What are 5 Key Differences?

Now, let’s talk about how dry and normal sockets differ and how they impact healing.  

1- Appearance

i. Normal Socket

A normal socket simply appears as a blood clot. The location of the normal socket is the same as the location of teeth removed. 

So, you get to see a darkish color blood clot in the place of teeth.

iI. Dry Socket

Instead of a darker-colored blood clot in the teeth’s place, a hole appears at the extraction site from where you can see the whitish bone. 

2- Pain

i. Normal Socket

When a normal socket forms, the healing process continues. As a result of healing, the pain after extraction starts reducing with time. 

iI. Dry Socket

If the blood clot does not form or dislodge, one may experience a throbbing pain that may last days after the extraction. 

In fact, severe toothache after tooth extraction is an important indicator of dry sockets. 

3- Taste

i. Normal Socket

In the case of normal healing, you don’t experience any taste changes. 

iI. Dry Socket

However, when a dry socket occurs, one usually experiences a change in taste. Many people often complain about experiencing a metallic taste in their mouth. 

4- Odor 

i. Normal Socket

In a normal socket, the healing usually continues, and patients don’t complain about bad breath. 

iI. Dry Socket

One of the possible symptoms of a dry socket is bad breath, which can be an uncomfortable experience for you. 

5- Exposure 

i. Normal Socket

Normal sockets don’t expose the bone and tissue as these are covered under the blood clot. That’s why it appears to be darker in color. 

iI. Dry Socket

However, in the case of a dry socket, tooth bone and nerves get exposed to the air, food, and germs. This exposure further increases the risk of complications such as infections. 

Read: Post Tooth Extraction Care: What To Avoid For Healing

Causes and Risk Factors of Dry Socket

A dry socket occurs when the blood clot fails to form, is dislodged, or dissolves before the healing process is complete. There is no definitive cause for problems with blood clot formation. 

However, many things increase your risk of getting a dry socket, such as:

  • Oral infection
  • Improper aftercare
  • History of dry socket
  • Use of tobacco-related products or habits like smoking
  • Taking certain medications, such as blood thinners or contraceptive pills,

Read: 6 Reasons Why Your Tooth Extraction Hurts After 7 Days

Tips for Prevention of Dry Socket

If you are looking for dry socket prevention, then the following are the tips to consider:

  • Try regular salt water rinses for cleaning the extraction site
  • Avoid using straws for drinking purposes
  • Eat soft foods that are easy to chew
  • Don’t smoke

Read: 7 Tips to Prevent Dry Socket After Tooth Extraction

Treatment of Dry Socket

Once your dentist diagnoses a dry socket, the following are the treatment options:

  • Cleaning the site of the dry socket
  • Placement of teeth gauze
  • Pain-relief medicine

Bottom Line

A dry socket is a common complication that can occur after a tooth extraction. Under normal circumstances, a blood clot forms at the extraction site, creating a normal socket. However, in some cases, problems with blood clot formation result in dry socket formation. 

Normal and dry sockets are completely different in appearance and healing. The presence of a dry socket comes with a severe toothache, bad breath, and metallic taste and exposes the bone beneath.

Other complications associated with dry sockets are gum infection and delayed healing. So, ensure that you visit your dentist in time for proper aftercare. 


How Do I Know if it’s Normal Pain or Dry Socket?

Normal pain usually gets better with time. However, dry socket pain gets severe with time. Also, a dry socket has other associated symptoms that help you differentiate between normal and dry socket pain. 

Can a Dry Socket Heal on Its Own?

In most cases, a dry socket can heal independently without any complication; however, follow your dentist’s instructions regarding pain management for quick recovery.  

How Do I Know If My Socket Is Healing?

The most common indicator of socket healing is pain reduction and relief of other related symptoms. 

How Long Does It Take Dry Socket to Heal?

A dry socket usually heals within 7-10 days. However, in some cases, it may take 3-4 weeks, depending on the severity of the dry socket. 

What to do If Dry Socket Doesn’t Heal After 3 Weeks?

If a dry socket isn’t healing after three weeks, visiting your dentist is recommended.

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