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Everything you need to know about wisdom teeth infection after removal

wisdom teeth infection after removal
Wisdom tooth extraction is the most common procedure in oral surgery. Sometimes it is associated with complications such as infection, bleeding, and pain. Despite this, the risk of keeping a wisdom tooth is sometimes more important than its removal, especially if it is locked in the bone.

Although infectious complications are uncommon, recognizing them is essential to detect the symptoms and act quickly.

Keep in mind that not everyone reacts the same way to extractions. It depends on the complexity of the surgery, your general condition, and whether or not you followed your doctor's advice, making it difficult to tell if a symptom is normal or not or how long it will last.
Find out in this article everything you need to know about infection after wisdom teeth removal

Why the risk of keeping wisdom teeth can be greater than the complications after removal?

You've had your wisdom teeth removed, and perhaps some of the post-surgical effects have made you wonder if it was worth it.

Before doing anything, your dentist will carefully assess the risks associated with wisdom tooth removal. Afterward, he will explain to you the risk/benefit ratio so that you can make the decision that is right for you.

Wisdom teeth may never be a problem if they have grown in the correct position. You may want to consider keeping them if they do not cause significant pain when they erupt, have enough space to appear properly, so that they are accessible to brushing, and do not affect the surrounding tissue. Unfortunately, few cases meet these criteria.

In some situations, the wisdom tooth does not have enough room to show up, causing many problems. In these cases, it is preferable to extract them as soon as possible to avoid complications.

By keeping your wisdom teeth that have erupted abnormally, you are taking many risks, including the following:

  • Wisdom teeth are partially or fully impacted: The main risk is the formation of a cyst and damaging the neighboring tooth (2nd molar). The tissues around the tooth, including the bone and gum, can become infected, causing throbbing pain.
  • When the wisdom tooth has erupted in the wrong position: It will be difficult to clean and therefore susceptible to decay. If the decay reaches the pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth, an infection may occur along with acute pain.
  • A wisdom tooth that has erupted abnormally can injure the cheek when chewing and lead to painful ulcerations.
  • The wisdom tooth can lead to the accumulation of food debris, attracting bacteria and leading to infection of the surrounding tissues and the loosening of the neighboring tooth.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

First, your dentist will perform a clinical examination to determine your general health and current treatments to identify any potential interference with the procedure.

He will also evaluate the eruption and position of your wisdom teeth with an x-ray examination to assess the risks and take the necessary measures.
Wisdom teeth extraction can be done using two techniques:

  • Simple extraction: If the wisdom teeth are out, the dentist will pull them out directly with forceps.
  • Surgical extraction: If the wisdom teeth are within the bone, the dentist will cut the gum to expose the tooth and then reduce the bone so that the tooth can be accessible to the instruments. The tooth is extracted either entirely or after cutting it into several pieces. Once the tooth is removed, the gum is closed with several sutures to promote healing and protect the surgical site.

Infections that can occur after wisdom teeth removal

Any surgical procedure has its risks, including wisdom teeth extraction. Post-surgery complications differ from person to person, depending on the complexity of the procedure, health status, and aftercare.

Despite all the measures taken, infections may occur days or weeks later. Fortunately, they are rare and often temporary. Recovery is usually spontaneous or through known treatments.

Infections are often associated with throbbing pain with signs of inflammation, including redness, swelling, and heat sensation.
Among infections that can occur after extraction:

1. Dry socket


Also known as alveolitis or alveolar osteitis is the most common infectious complication.

Normally, after wisdom tooth removal, the exposed bone cavity, where the tooth was, is immediately covered with a blood clot. This blood clot protects the exposed bone from infection and promotes healing.

A dry socket occurs when the blood clot has not formed properly or has broken off for some reason.

The first 5 days after the extraction are the most critical, during which time you must follow your dentist's advice so as not to damage the blood clot.

Symptoms usually appear after 3 days of the procedure and include intense and constant pain, which starts by itself, without touching the extraction site. It can spread to the ear and the rest of the jaw. Over-the-counter painkillers usually do not help. You may also have a bad taste and inflammation of the gums.

If you think you have a dry socket, you must contact your surgeon as soon as possible. He will take some measures to relieve the infection.

If left untreated, it can either heal spontaneously within 15 days or progress to osteitis, which can diffuse to the jawbone.

2. Cellulitis


It results from the spread of the infection to the soft tissues surrounding the wisdom tooth.

Symptoms include swelling of the cheek, redness, and a sensation of heat with deterioration of the general health (fever, fatigue, swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck).

Another form of infection that can occur 3 weeks after the procedure is called delayed-onset infection.

It happens in 0.7% to 2.2% of cases, often after an impacted lower wisdom tooth extraction. It is manifested by swelling, pain, limited mouth opening, pus discharge, and fever.
Various factors contribute to its occurrence, including poor oral hygiene, accumulation of food debris, smoking, and certain general diseases.

3. Sinusitis


The roots of the upper wisdom teeth are close to the maxillary sinuses. Removing these teeth can injure the sinuses, causing them to become inflamed or infected. This condition is called sinusitis.

Symptoms include pain and pressure in the area around the eyes, cheeks, and nose, nasal obstruction, and pus discharge.

Generally, the consequences of sinusitis after wisdom tooth removal are less severe and are usually temporary.

Other complications of wisdom teeth removal

In addition to the infection, other complications may occur, among them:

Hematoma

After the wisdom teeth removal, swollen blue, green, or yellow lesions may appear. These occur when a small blood vessel has been cut during the procedure. The discoloration of the involved region usually subsides in 10 – 15 days.

Loss of sensitivity

Wisdom tooth removal surgery can irritate the nerves surrounding the area. This can cause numbness in some parts of the mouth that can last for a few days to a few weeks. This condition is called paresthesia.
In rare cases, paresthesia can be permanent. If you feel any numbness after the procedure, report it to your dentist so that it can be monitored.

Temporomandibular joint pain

It is normal to experience pain in the temporomandibular joint after wisdom tooth extraction. It is due to the stress that afflicted the joints during the procedure.

Limited opening of the mouth

After wisdom tooth removal, especially a lower one, you may notice that your mouth does not open as it used to. This should only last for a few days, but if it doesn't, talk to your dentist as soon as possible as it could be a more serious complication.

Bleeding

Bleeding after the procedure is inevitable. It can last up to several hours after you go home. However, if you are taking blood thinners or have a blood disorder, it is important to mention it to your surgeon. He will take the necessary measures to avoid abundant and uncontrollable post-surgery bleeding.

What is considered normal after wisdom teeth removal?

The removal of wisdom teeth may cause some reactions without being called complications. They are completely normal and last about 1 to 2 weeks. After the second week, the diet returns to normal. The signs to expect after a wisdom tooth extraction are:

Swelling or edema

It is a natural inflammatory process essential for healing and occurs after any surgical procedure. Swelling may appear in the cheeks, neck, chin, and lips. Usually, it occurs 24 hours after surgery, peaks 48 to 72 hours after the extraction, begins to shrink by the third day and disappears after the first week.

Redness and heat sensation

They are related to the inflammatory process too. After the procedure, the blood vessels widen to supply the surgical site with cells and nutrients needed for healing. These inflammatory reactions are normal and disappear after the first week.

Pain

Throbbing and pain after wisdom tooth extraction may occur in the next few hours as the anesthesia wears off. The pain intensity should peak about 6 hours after the operation.

It is even unavoidable and depends on the technique used to remove the tooth. For example, a tooth removed with a complex surgical procedure will cause more pain that will last longer than a simple extraction.

The pain should subside as it heals. If not, contact your surgeon to check if it is a post-surgery complication so that he can adapt the medical prescription.

Nausea

Nausea and vomiting are also likely to occur after wisdom tooth removal. It usually occurs 24 to 72 hours after the operation and disappears 24 hours later. It can be caused by taking sedative drugs before the operation, by general anesthesia, or by ingesting blood during the procedure.

Factors that increase the risk of infection after wisdom tooth extraction

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can lead to food debris accumulation in the space left by the extracted tooth, damaging the blood clot and leading to infection.

Smoking

Smoking is one of the primary causes of dry sockets. Tobacco contains toxic substances that can slow down the healing process. It is recommended to stop smoking during the first 3 to 4 days to avoid infections.

Systemic diseases

Certain systemic diseases that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes, certain blood disorders, and HIV infection, increase the risk of infections after the extraction.

If you have a systemic disease, tell your surgeon about it. He may prescribe antibiotics before and after the procedure to avoid complications.

Age

The risk of infections increases with age.

Not following your dentist's instructions

After wisdom teeth removal, you must carefully follow your surgeon's recommendations. If you don't, you may disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infection. Your surgeon will advise you on oral hygiene and diet and may prescribe antibiotics depending on the situation.

Treatment of infection after wisdom teeth removal

The treatment of an infection after a wisdom tooth extraction depends on its type and severity.
It may be as simple as a prescription of antibiotics that you must follow for a week, but other forms of infection require a treatment procedure at your dentist or surgeon..

In the case of a dry socket, the treatment is performed by the dentist or oral surgeon. It consists of cleaning and scraping the infected socket and inducing bleeding to create a new blood clot. Then, the socket is filled with a surgical dressing, which will be renewed constantly until healing. Your dentist will prescribe painkillers with or without antibiotics as needed.

In the case of cellulitis, the treatment depends on its form. If there is no pus, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics that you should follow for about 7 days. If there is pus, your dentist will first perform drainage followed by antibiotics.

In the case of sinusitis, the treatment consists of introducing antiseptics and anti-inflammatories through the nose with sometimes a prescription of antibiotics. The treatment goal is to treat the inflammation or infection of the sinuses.
If the extraction of the upper wisdom tooth has caused a hole to form between the sinus and the mouth, which is called an oro-antral communication, it may heal by itself in a few weeks. Otherwise, surgery will be necessary to close the hole created.

How to prevent infection after wisdom teeth removal?

Whether it is the extraction of the wisdom tooth or any other tooth, it is necessary to follow your dentist's advice to avoid complications.

About your oral hygiene


It is necessary to maintain good oral hygiene after wisdom teeth extraction to keep the bacterial load in your mouth low and thus prevent infection of the surgical site.

For the first 24 hours, you should not brush your teeth, rinse your mouth vigorously, use an alcohol solution or disturb the extraction site, as this could damage the blood clot and disrupt the healing process.

After the first day, you can brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss your teeth with an interdental cleaner.

Five days after surgery, you can rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution to promote healing (about ½ teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of water).

Temporarily stop smoking


Smoking is one of the leading causes of dry socket. It involves sucking, which can exert pressure on the socket and destabilize the blood clot. In addition, nicotine reduces blood flow, which affects the healing process. You must stop smoking for the first 3 to 4 days.

Have a rest


After wisdom teeth removal, you should rest and avoid physical activity for the first two to three days, as your body needs the energy to heal.

Adjust your diet


For the first 24 hours, choose a cold or lukewarm liquid diet, avoid sucking or drinking through a straw, and do not drink hot or spicy beverages to avoid burns. After 72 hours, choose a soft diet that requires little chewing effort and avoid hard, sticky foods that may accumulate at the surgical site. After two weeks, you can resume your usual diet.

Control your bleeding


After the wisdom teeth removal, it is normal for bleeding to persist for a few hours. To control it, you must follow your dentist's post-operative instructions.

You should bite on the pads for 20 minutes as long as the bleeding stops and the blood clot forms. During this time, you should not speak, as this can create pressure that will disrupt the blood clot.

After removing the cotton pads, you should not spit or rinse your mouth aggressively. Do not make any physical effort, as this will increase your blood pressure, promoting more bleeding.

It is necessary to follow the medical prescription of your dentist during the indicated period.
If you follow all these tips, you should not have to worry about bleeding or infection after wisdom teeth removal.