When an adult tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms within the socket.  Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) is a condition that results if the blood clot is dislodged or dissolved.  This leaves underlying nerves exposed and is very painful.  It can lead to infection and can last for quite a few days.  Some people are more likely to develop dry socket, especially those who smoke, have poor oral hygiene, have greater-than-usual trauma during the tooth extraction surgery, and those who had a wisdom tooth pulled.  Spitting a lot or drinking through a straw after having a tooth extracted can also increase a patient’s chance of developing dry socket.  So, what can be done to help prevent dry socket from occurring in the first place?  Be sure to not smoke for at least the first 24 hours after tooth removal.  Avoid using a straw, and when rinsing the mouth after the first 24 hours, do so in a very gentle manner.  When brushing teeth, let the water dribble out of the mouth instead of forcefully spitting into the sink.