Dentistry/Dry socket


I had a root canal followed by a molar extraction in my bottom left molar. 3 days after the extraction I developed dry socket. I was in terrible pain but it was a Friday afternoon and the dentist's office recommended I wait until Monday to come in. I spent the weekend in pain taking a lot of medicine. On Monday, the oral surgeon told me it was dry socket and packed it with gauze with iodine. My gums, especially near my cheek were very swollen and the gums surrounding the extraction were tender.  He did not tell me I should come back to change the packing. Yesterday I pulled out a lot of it because the area around it was hurting and I thought it looked disgusting. I have less pain but my gums on the outer side are still very swollen and tender. I am concerned about infection even though the surgeon said it wasn't infected when he saw it on Monday. Is this normal in the healing of dry socket (the swelling and discoloration of the gums)?  I can't help feeling like there is something really wrong here! Thanks

Nancy - When you are diagnosed with a dry socket, placing a medicated packing is correct, but it should be placed only after the socket was irrigated.  You should be seen every 1-2 days until the pain goes away.  Swelling of the surrounding gums can happen if bacteria from the mouth becomes caught between the gum and the packing.  It will create inflammation and the gums will swelling.  If you still have the swelling, you need to immediately begin a regimen of warm salt water rinses in that area, 4-5 times a day for about 3-5 minutes.  

Try the rinsing and it should get better soon.  If not back to the surgeon to evaluate the socket.


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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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