Dry socket is a condition which develops over a period of days following a tooth (typically wisdom tooth) extraction. It is not only painful but emits a foul smell as well.
There are two possible reasons for its formation. One is that a blood clot failed to form in the socket. The second one is that the blood clot did form but was dislodged and lost. The end result is that the healing process in the tooth's socket is hampered.
How does one know that they are suffering from dry socket? The most common symptom is a dull, throbbing pain which starts a couple of days after a tooth had been extracted. There is also a foul smell implied.
If you ask dentists, they will tell you that getting a dry socket is something quite "unpredictable", although there are some risk factors which increase the chances of its formation.
But generally, the chances of it happening are high if (a) the teeth extracted is the lower third molar teeth (another name for wisdom teeth) and (b) the wisdom tooth is affected and it was removed surgically.
A study conducted in 2007 reviewed that the chances of getting dry sockets following wisdom teeth extraction is between 5% and 10%.
However, this problem related to wisdom tooth extraction should be viewed in the right perspective. It does happen, unfortunately, but patients should not use it as an excuse not to have their problematic wisdom teeth extracted.
Only dentist can treat dry sockets, of course. What they will do is put a medicated dressing in the socket. The aim is to soothe and reduce the pain. This dressing need to be replaced every day until the symptoms disappear.