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Dry Socket? Grab a Tea Bag

Alveolar osteitis, commonly known as "dry socket" is the most common complication patients experience after tooth extraction(s), particularly wisdom teeth.  Normally, after an extraction blood clots will form in and around the hole to protect the tissue, bone, and nerves during the healing process. However, a dry socket occurs when a sufficient blood clot fails to form (due to various reasons) in and around the extraction site; thus leaving the hole open and exposed. According to WebMD, only "2% to 5% of people develop dry socket after an extraction." 

Symptoms include increasing pain 2-3 days after the extraction, halitosis (bad breath), and a lingering bad taste in the mouth. If you haven't already, immediately call your dentist or oral surgeon to report your symptoms and schedule an emergency visit. Remember, do not touch or poke the extraction site with your fingers or tongue. In the meantime, you can use the following home remedies to help reduce pain and irritation. 

Saliva and air irritate dry sockets and intensify pain. To avoid either, bite down on moist gauze or tea bags. 

The tannic acid in tea bags causes blood vessels to contract, which promotes blood clot formation. Take a moistened tea bag and place it over the dry socket. Gently close/bite down on it for 20-30 minutes. Repeat as often as necessary.

Clove oil is the most popular natural remedy and antiseptic for dry socket relief. It can be found and purchased over-the-counter at most drugstores. Pure clove oil is too strong to place directly on the gum tissue. It will burn. Dilute clove oil with water then moisten a gauze pad with the solution. Place gauze in the dry socket and bite down.
*Clove oil has been known to cause an allergic reaction (rash) in some people. 

Place a cold press and/or ice pack over the affected area to reduce swelling.

Gargle with lukewarm, salt water throughout your day.
Drink plenty of water to keep the area hydrated and clean.
*Do not drink liquids through a straw or forcibly spit out mouth rinse, as both hinder blood clot formation.

Sometimes a good ole fashioned painkiller cannot be negotiated. "You can take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to ease the discomfort (WebMD)." Generally, over-the-counter medications are not strong enough to stop the pain. However, they will reduce it. Take all medications as directed.


  1. Hello Cherie, I'm not sure if my last comment went through or not so forgive me if this is my second one. My name is Will Holley and we came accross your blog while developing a new product that my company is about to launch. It is a tea bag designed specifically for oral use after dental procedures. It is flavored with essential oils such as clove oil. Check out our site here . Dental distributors should be carrying our product by the end of this summer. Keep up the great blogging

  2. I am hoping same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me.

    wisdom tooth extraction

  3. What kind if tea bag should be used? Regular tea
    Or herbal? I ha e a dry socket.

  4. Hi Lavonne, good question - any tea bag will work fine. The type of tea doesn't matter as all teas contain tannic acid, which aid in healing a dry socket. Hope you get well soon, thanks for visiting.

  5. I'm not sure if I have a dry socket or not cause the site have a little blood clot but I still having a bad breathe and unpleasant taste in the area. what can I do?

  6. Hi Joseph, thank you for comment! First, an oral exam is necessary to determine exactly what is going on. I suggest contacting a dentist of your choice for an immediate oral exam. Based solely on your comment, the good news is -- it seems the area of tooth extraction is trying to heal (form a clot/new tissue). However, bad breathe (halitosis) indicates the presence of a bacterial infection. Again, please contact your dentist for a proper oral exam and/or further treatment.

  7. Hi my name is Tonaya, I had my wisdom tooth pulled on 29 Dec 2017 and after several trips back to the surgeon, then finally a trip to the urgent care they told me I had dry socket. My issue is now then two weeks later, I’m still in Excruciating pain and it’s not getting any better. I have been taking Tramadol for pain and it’s not working!!!!!!!!! Tried cove oil, helps a little, I have to put a heating pad on my face from some relief . How long do the pain last??

    I’m gong to try the tea bag because at this point I’m willing to do anything.

  8. Hi Tonaya,

    I'm going to give it to you straight -- the tea bag method itself will not reduce the pain. However, the GOOD NEWS is that the tannic acid in tea bags aid in the healing process; which will in turn reduce the pain. Only an oral exam and diagnosis from a dentist can determine why your dry socket is not healing effectively. Therefore, I encourage you to keep in contact with your dentist and/or oral surgeon about your progress, including any medications, herbs, and home remedies currently being used.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, "a dry socket occurs when the clot is dislodged before the extraction site has had a chance to heal. Once the clot is gone, the nerve is exposed to everything from the air you breathe to the food you eat, which can be extremely painful." [See full article:]

    Typically, there is pain because there isn't a clot protecting the open wound. I highly suggest reading the above Mayo Clinic article on dry socket. In addition, here are a few things you can do to promote the healing process and prevent dislocating the clot formation:

    -Follow any and all post-operative instructions given by your dentist.

    -Avoid drinking from a straw. This includes any suckling motion such as on ice, cough drops, candies, etc., AND smoking. Doing so can dislodge the clot and irritate the extraction site.

    -Avoid smoking and tobacco products all together (at least during the healing process).

    -Avoid alcohol, caffeinated, carbonated, and hot drinks.

    -Eat soft foods like soup, pasta dishes, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, etc.

    -Rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water several times a day to aid healing, soothe, and flush out any food particles.

    -Place a tea bag over the extraction site (just like you would a piece of gauze). Change tea bags intermittently as necessary.

    I hope this was helpful to you. Well wishes and a speedy recovery.

  9. So I had 2 teeth pulled on Friday the wisdom tooth seems to off heard fine but the molar next to it is in a lot of pain, I have a bad odor in my mouth I called the dentist yesterday told them my symptoms and the just have me Morton and a anotboitica and said no need to come in do I i call again or just wait

  10. Hi Alison,

    Yes, it's best to take the meditation as prescribed by your dentist and wait awhile. The Motrin is for the pain, while the antibiotic works to clear up the bacterial infection.

  11. I unwittingly took a tiny top off a multi vit. tab & dislodged the clot, dry socket followed inevitably. Nor continue any vit. C (ascorbicacid), as vit c is a blood thinner. Dentists don't know this. I knew or realised in a short while the association of what I had done.

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  13. thanks for the tips and information..i appreciate it..
    Oakville Dentist