A wisdom tooth infection can become increasingly uncomfortable over time. Impacted wisdom teeth or a cavity are common causes. Your wisdom teeth might also fail to push through your gums fully.
If your wisdom teeth become infected, book an appointment with your dentist to check if you require surgery, medication, or other dental work.
What Is A Wisdom Tooth?
Wisdom teeth are located at the very back of your gums and are the last teeth to break through the surface. For many people, wisdom teeth don’t start coming in until their late teens or early twenties.
They often become infected, which causes discomfort and requires medical intervention.
Causes of Infection
Because wisdom teeth are at the back of your mouth, they can be harder to clean properly. Lack of flossing or cleaning can lead to bacteria and plaque build-up, which can cause an infection.
Because they emerge so late, after your mouth is already full of teeth, wisdom teeth sometimes grow in at an angle. This situation results in a partially impacted wisdom tooth, which can pressure nearby teeth, causing discomfort. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are prone to infections because they trap food particles in the gum tissue.
A fully impacted wisdom tooth occurs when the tooth fails to break the surface of the gum. Like partially impacted teeth, they are more likely than other molars to become infected. Impaction can also result in gum inflammation and infection.
Some of the common bacterias responsible for wisdom tooth infection include:
- Eikenella corrodens
Your dentist will determine the cause of the infection and prescribe the appropriate medication or procedure at your appointment.
Some people have no discomfort or infection associated with their wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, many teens and young adults will have at least one infected wisdom tooth.
Often, patients will experience swelling or discomfort in their jaw or the affected tooth. If it persists for more than 72 hours, you should see a dentist.
Another sign of infection can be swollen or red gums around the infected tooth. You might notice this symptom when brushing your teeth or chewing.
If you recently developed bad breath, are having problems chewing or opening your jaw, you should consider checking in with your dentist.
More severe infections can also result in swollen lymph nodes and a slight fever.
Sometimes, a wisdom tooth infection heals on its own. If your symptoms last for longer than three days or cause you extreme discomfort, see a dentist.
Depending on the severity of your infection, your dentist may decide to proceed with an extraction. Before your surgery, they will likely prescribe you antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin to treat the infection.
They may also prescribe medications to help with your discomfort. Cool compresses on your jaw can also help, and continuing to rinse your mouth and brush your teeth will reduce the risk of further infections.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
If your dentist decides to remove the tooth, they will schedule you for a simple or complex extraction. Both are routine procedures but have some significant differences.
You’ll have a simple extraction if your wisdom teeth are fully or partially erupted. This surgery can be performed with a local anaesthetic, although your dentist will sedate you nitrous oxide or an IV upon request.
Your dentist will then use an elevator, a dental tool, to rock the tooth back and forth. Once it’s loose, your dentist will remove the tooth with forceps.
To stop the bleeding, they will stuff your gum with gauze.
A complex extraction is necessary with an impacted wisdom tooth. Unlike a simple extraction, the dentist will sedate you and remove the tooth surgically. They will likely have to make an incision in your gum to reveal the tooth and might need to break the tooth up into smaller parts to remove it. After removing the tooth, your dentist will suture your gum.
You can expect to recover in three to seven days. Use a cold compress to reduce swelling, and take over the counter pain medication to lessen any discomfort. For 24 hours, only eat soft or liquid food to prevent the wound from reopening.
If the swelling hasn’t reduced within 24 hours, or you see any pus, contact your dentist immediately.
Schedule an Appointment With Your Dentist
A wisdom tooth infection can cause discomfort and result in complications without medical attention. The compassionate dental team at Available Dental Care can monitor the development of your wisdom teeth and make a recommendation for a wisdom tooth extraction before you encounter any discomfort.
To book your appointment, please call us on 1300 896 532.