When a wisdom tooth becomes infected, it can cause pain in the back of your mouth, first affecting the tooth and if left, the infection can spread throughout the mouth. Left untreated, this can cause severe pain and the infection could spread throughout the mouth, resulting in costly repair work and tooth loss. This is why it is essential to consult your dentist if you are suffering from tooth pain.
How to Spot an Infection
One of the earliest signs of wisdom tooth infection is pain in the back of your mouth that can be assigned to a single wisdom tooth or multiple.
If the pain is minor and goes away in a day or two, this is usually no sign for concern as the wisdom teeth are simply moving into their natural positions. However, if the pain does not go away and becomes severe, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Other Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of wisdom tooth infections are usually attributed to pain in the back of the mouth, but can also include:
- Swelling of the gums
- Bleeding gums and redness
- Difficulty and pain when eatingRed or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Metallic or otherwise unpleasant taste in the mouth
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
It could reasonably be assumed that wisdom teeth cause more harm than good, so why do we still have them? The answer can be attributed to our ancestors, who required wisdom teeth to chew and grind down plant tissue. Our bodies have evolved to the extent where we are now able to easily eat foods and efficiently digest the required minerals with the need for extra teeth.
The Treatment Process
Your dentist will likely take X-rays of your mouth to understand what tooth is causing the problem and if removal is required. If removal is required, the procedure is very routine and your dentist may even be able to perform the procedure on the day, but this depends entirely on your personal circumstances and if your dentist has any other procedures booked in.
Why Your Wisdom Teeth Become Infected
One of the main causes for wisdom teeth becoming infected is due to them being impacted. When your wisdom tooth or teeth become impacted, they attempt to submerge from your gumline but come into contact with a neighbouring tooth or teeth. This is what causes the discomfort which can result in inflammation, bleeding and bad breath
- Cavities in Wisdom Teeth
Cavities are another common reason for teeth to become infected. However, this is more common in molars and front teeth. Wisdom teeth are naturally more difficult to clean than other teeth due to their position at the back of the mouth.
- Treating Infected Wisdom Teeth
Almost all wisdom tooth infections are treated via wisdom tooth extraction. This is because most people’s mouths do not have enough room for wisdom teeth, leading them to partially or fully erupt at awkward angles.
Wisdom tooth extraction is a commonly performed procedure that removes and prevents further problems involving wisdom teeth. While the procedure is routine, there are potential complications that patients must be made aware of, these may include:
- Minor bleeding post-surgery
- Temporary nerve damage
- Dry socket
Impacted wisdom teeth are very common and typically occur between the ages of 18 – 30. There is nothing you can do to prevent wisdom teeth from erupting and if they do cause problems, they can be removed easily.
What is Dry Socket?
Also known as alveolar osteitis, dry socket sometimes occurs after wisdom tooth extraction. When the wisdom tooth is removed, it forms a blood clot, which is the body’s natural response to protect the affected surgical site. Dry sockets occur when the body is not able to form a clot to cover the area, this leaves both the bone and nerves exposed, increasing the risk of infection.
What Causes Dry Socket?
Dentists and orthodontists are still unsure over what causes dry socket but we do know what factors can increase it developing:
- Drinking and smoking
- Chewing tobacco
- Poor oral hygiene after the procedure
- Damaging the tooth further after surgery (accident/injury)
Additionally, if you have suffered with a dry socket before, you may be more prone to developing another. If this is the case, please advise your dentist beforehand so they can prepare an aftercare package.
Identifying Dry Socket
Fortunately, dry socket is very easy to identify as it occurs soon after wisdom tooth extraction. The symptoms of dry socket include:
- Extremely painful sensations from the site of extraction (usually within three days of treatment)
- No sign of a blood clot at treatment site
- Bad taste in mouth
- Pain transferring from extraction site to jaw, eye and even head
It is completely normal for you to experience pain after your treatment. However, this pain should be somewhat minor and progressively lessened after a day or two. If pain continues and increases, you must seek advice and possibly further treatment from your dentist.
Treatment for Dry Socket
The main purpose of treating dry socket is to alleviate the pain felt by the patient. There are a number of ways they will be able to manage the pain and fix the dry socket. This includes:
- Cleaning the socket by flushing out any debris or irritants that may be causing painful sensations
- Apply medical dressings to the socket to stop bleeds and promote healing
- Prescribe pain medication
You will need to follow the aftercare guidance of your dentist after you leave their care to ensure the dry socket heals appropriately. This may include gently flushing the dry socket with saline solution and continuing your course of medication until the pain subside and the dry socket heals.
Do consult your dentist if problems persist.
Preventing Wisdom Tooth Infections
As previously mentioned, you cannot stop your wisdom teeth from becoming impacted, as this is simply down to your tooth formation. However, you can stop the risk of them becoming infected and painful by regularly attending dental checkups once every six months. Not only will this save you pain and stress but you may be able to save money if the problem is caught early. In most cases, the longer you leave dental problems, the more expensive and complex the treatments become.
If you are suffering with a wisdom tooth infection, please consult our team today and we will provide fast, affordable and exceptional treatment.