Having a tooth removed can be painful enough without the fear of developing a post-extraction dry socket.
A dry socket is a hole in the mouth that is created after a tooth is removed. The hole is typically covered by a blood clot, which protects the nerve from exposure to food, air, and other elements.
When a clot is dislodged before the socket has healed, it becomes exposed to the elements, leading to dryness, infection, and pain. Over-the-counter medicines can treat the pain, but if the pain is too severe, you may need a prescription for pain medicine from your dentist or oral surgeon.
If you think that your clot may have been dislodged after your extraction, call your dentist immediately. If food or other irritants get into the socket and stay there without attention from your dentist, an infection can occur. Your dentist can clean the socket and pack it with gauze to protect it, as well as recommend an antibiotic to prevent infection.
The best way to avoid getting a dry socket is to avoid drinking from a straw and smoking. These activities can dislodge your clot and open your socket up to air and the elements. Also, certain birth control pills can prevent effective blood clotting, so make sure to discuss all medications with your dentist before extraction.