Wisdom tooth extraction is a common oral surgery that helps prevent overcrowding with adult teeth and maintain good oral hygiene. However, after the extraction, infection is one of the major complications that can arise. It is important to understand the causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of such infections so that you can seek help as quickly as possible if needed.
Wisdom tooth extraction is the removal of four molar teeth located in the very back on each side of the mouth to make room for the adult teeth. It is commonly done after the age of 17, as this is when all adult teeth are developed. This surgery is done to help prevent overcrowding with adult teeth, along with maintaining good oral hygiene.
After wisdom tooth extraction surgery, infection is one of the major complications that can arise. This can happen due to the bacteria that were living in the mouth before the extraction and can enter the wound post-surgery and cause an infection. Poor oral hygiene after the surgery, and leaving the wound open to saliva, food, and other elements can all contribute to increasing the risk of infection.
Signs of Infection
Swelling and Redness
One of the main signs of infection is inflammation around the extraction site. The area will be visibly swollen and may also be a slightly different color than the surrounding tissue. This can appear red or discolored and may be tender to the touch.
Pain is another common sign of an infection post-wisdom tooth extraction. This can be a throbbing sensation around the socket, or a sharp “zing” of pain when the area is touched. The discomfort may be worse when trying to eat or open the mouth wide.
Appearance of Pus
The appearance of pus is also a sign of infection, as it is the result of an accumulation of dead white blood cells, bacteria, and other debris. It may be noticeable to the naked eye or can be felt in the area at the extraction site.
Foul Taste in the Mouth
It is not uncommon to experience a foul taste or smell in the mouth when dealing with an infection after wisdom tooth extraction. This smell can be a sign of infection or signify an unhealthy bacteria presence as a result of poor hygiene.
The area around the extraction site can become warm to the touch, due to an increase in body temperature as a result of the infection. A fever may also accompany this symptom.
Diagnosing an Infection
Examining Extraction Site
In order to properly diagnose an infection after wisdom tooth extraction, a dentist or oral surgeon will typically begin with a visual inspection of the area and the socket around the extraction site. The dentist should also check for signs such as redness, pain, and swelling, and confirm that no healing is taking place.
The dentist or oral surgeon may also take an x-ray to better diagnose an infection after wisdom tooth extraction. This will enable them to find any deeper or hidden issues that may be present in the jawbone that are unable to be seen with the naked eye.
Evaluating Swelling and Pain Level
Finally, the dentist or surgeon may check the swelling and pain level of the area. This is done to determine if the swelling has increased and to make sure that the pain level is not becoming unbearable.
Treating an Infection
Applying Cold Compress and Keeping the Area Clean
Treating an infection after wisdom tooth extraction typically involves applying a cold compress to the area to help reduce inflammation, as well as keeping the area clean by brushing and flossing, along with rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash.
Your dentist may also prescribe oral antibiotics to help reduce the pain and swelling, as well as stop the spread of the infection.
Attempting At-Home Remedies
In addition to oral antibiotics, there are several at-home remedies that you can try to help treat a wisdom tooth extraction infection. These include drinking warm herbal teas, salt water rinses, and applying ice packs to the area.
Consulting a Dentist or Oral Surgeon
If the infection persists and does not respond to any of the at-home treatments, it is important to see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible to better evaluate the cause and extent of the infection.
Even with good oral hygiene, an infection can still occur after wisdom tooth extraction. Knowing the cause and recognizing the signs is essential in order to seek medical help as soon as possible.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic. It does not offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your situation. Any advice provided is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.