Dry-socket, and does it really hurt that bad?

Some are familiar with dry-socket. It is the condition resulting from infection in the gums after one get’s their wisdom teeth out, or any-teeth I would presume.

I had a student email me today saying they would not be in class this afternoon, or on thursday due to dry-socket, and it was really bad!
Can it prevent a student from attending class? Is it really that bad?
I’ve never got this excuse before from a student, so if someone could tell me from either personal experience or possibly there are some dental hygienists or dentists out there…

I need to know whether I should be skeptical of the pain, or if I should really understand said problem…

Do not doubt how bad this condition can be. Dry socket occurs when the clot that has formed in the extractio site falls out or fails to form. Raw bone and nerve endings are exposed. It can be excruciating.


  1. Take a long knitting needle
  2. Shove said knitting needle up your nose, through your sinus cavity, behind your left eye and out the left corner of said eye (make sure you pierce or at least touch the optic nerve along the way).
  3. Find the heaviest friend you can (preferrable >300lbs)
  4. Get him to jump up and down on the end of the needle coming out of your nose. For at least 48 hours straight.

Oh, and 5) Make sure he pulls the needle out, then shoves it back in again at random intervals, and you will have an approximate idea of what kind of pain a dry socket can cause, especially if it’s upper teeth.

(Note: the above description is anectdotal and applies only to me when I had a couple of upper molars removed, but is for all intents and purposes, an accurate description of the pain I had with dry socket, so I wouldn’t begrudge this kid a couple of days for Dry Socket. If he’s lucky, he’s out cold from the pain relievers he has been prescribed.)


Hmmm. Graphic. Ok I give him some slack.

Make that a dull knitting needle. With sandpaper on the shaft.

Just remember, Phl, there’s a reason that medical studies use dental pain as a standard of acute pain to be relieved by whatever medication is being tested…

Jeez, Critter!

I almost threw up reading your post. Not because it was overly graphic, but because you made remember the extac…I mean excruciating pain of said condition.

I remember wondering if it was actually possible for my eyeballs to be pulled out through my mouth–cuz it sure felt like that was what was happening.

Just reading the subject gave me the cringing heebie-jeebies and I’ve never had that kind of work done.

I remeber the dentist saying in an incredibly mild, presice clipped tone,

“Your roots are curved so the tooth will not come out straight, I will just separate it”

So saying, he drilled an oval hole in the tooth, inserted a tool with a matching head, and turned it round in the hole he had just created.

As he did so there was a noise…

It was clear to me that he had somehow smuggled a hand grenade into my mouth, judging by the huge crack and bits of blood and broken bone that flew out, some of the splinters were so sharp they stuck into my gums.

He took the rest out using a pair of tweezers, a sweeping brush, and shook my head around to hear if any loose bits were still rattling around in there, but the only noise was the ebb and flow of the tide of blod in my mouth.

When he llokied inside again he was not happy,

“Hmm” again in that mild clipped precise tone that had obviously sent thousands of warriors of the death in some modern coliseum," it looks like there is a root still in there, I just take away a little bit of the jaw…hold still…"


So what happens when you just decide that no matter how bad your wisdom teeth are looking, that there is NO WAY you’re going through surgery on that scale?

My right bottom wisdom tooth isn’t growing UP, it’s kinda rotated so that it points forward. The tooth is almost at right angle to the molar next to it.

It doesn’t hurt, but it does create uncomfortable “pressure” from time to time. I’m real good at ignoring ailments. Considering the “knitting needle rubbing on your optic nerve” stories, I am not considering having my wisdom teeth fixed ANYTIME soon.

Am I making a mistake by ignoring it?


Oh great I have to get a couple of teeth extracted next week. I shouldn’t have read this.

Yes it hurts. Like Hell. OTOH, when I had my wisdom teeth out, and got one, when I went back to the oral surgeon and got treated for it, it was relieved pretty quickly. They stuck a medicated dressing of some kind in the hole, and the pain pretty much went away, or at least dropped to a generally tolerable level.

All my 3rd molars are^^^were impacted to some greater or lesser extent. I did not want to face surgery for removal, so I left them ther. Until one of them, because of a gap around the tooth, became infected. Since I could not clean effectively enough, food and bacteria became trapped and worked their way downwards. I cannot describe the pain of what amounts to a cavity inside your jaw. I had to have that one taken out.

The pain of the infection was bad, but so was the post-surgical pain. The surgery did not significantly improve the pain until almost a week had went by. I spent, all told, almost a week and a half on serious narcotic pain relievers.

So, in my case, “ignoring it” was not a winning strategy.

Slightly off-topic, but has anyone else had a “crown lengthening” done? It’s a euphemism for cutting away the gum and grinding down the jaw bone. Ever so unpleasant, and the stitches are nasty, but the drugs were topnotch.

Don’t worry, you will.

I had dry-sockets a few years ago and they hurt like hell. I did okay on pain meds but called in sick to work for about a week because I couldn’t function while I was all doped up. (Also, answering the phone was part of my job, and I couldn’t speak very well with gauze in my mouth.) The pain is like having a knife in your ear and jaw…not that I really know what being stabbed feels like but that’s the best way I know how to describe it.

Then there were the dental visits to get them packed and that was a whole 'nuther pain altogether.

Other than childbirth, it was the most pain I’ve experienced to date.

I wouldn’t worry.

I had a bottom wisdom tooth that was growing horizontally, perfectly perpendicular to the adjacent molar. The dentist had to crack it into several pieces to get it out. It was entirely painless. Local anesthesia only. The crunching sounds were awful, but I felt nothing. There was nothing like casdave’s boom. On the other hand my dentist was a cute, cheerful Indian woman who probably hasn’t sent anyone to their death.

Beyond that, it’s like any other tooth extraction. The bad part is when you get home. The newly-formed hole in your gum will keep bleeding for a while, and you will be chewing cotton pads and washing regularly with some strong disinfectant, and you will feel like crap. The pain is particularly evil, reminiscent of sinusitis in my experience. Stock up on painkillers, blankets and good movies and it will heal quickly.

I was sure dry-socketing was going to be some perverted sex thing.

Oh good, so I wasn’t the only one.

– Dragonblink, who is very careful to brush and floss her emerging wisdom teeth.

Yes, and the novocaine didn’t completely work…but I found that it didn’t hurt too badly afterwards, which is a good thing because the painkillers they give you always make me feel sick.

BTW, if anybody really wants to go in for severe dental pain, try a root canal without anesthesia.

And thanks to this thread for making me paranoid about getting my wisdom teeth extracted this winter…