Wisdom teeth usually grow in between the ages of 17 and 25 and are located at the very back of your mouth. Because of their location, wisdom teeth can be hard to clean or have inadequate room to grow. Wisdom teeth removal is a common dental procedure due to a wisdom teeth infection or other complications of having these large molars.
Causes of Wisdom Teeth Infection
Wisdom teeth infections are caused when bacteria grow in the back of your mouth and make holes in the enamel layer. This can cause cavities and tooth decay as well as an infection. Bacteria that commonly cause tooth infections are Streptococcus, Actinomyces, Peptostreptococcus, Prevotella, Fusobacterium, Aggregatibacter, and Eikenella corrodens.
Wisdom teeth are hard to see and clean, making it easier for food to get trapped on or between these teeth and nourish infection-causing bacteria. Sometimes, wisdom teeth are unable to emerge from below the gums, or grow sideways, causing discomfort and an increased chance of an infection.
Wisdom Tooth Infection Symptoms
Common symptoms of wisdom tooth infections include discomfort or sensitivity in the back of the mouth, white fluid or oozing around the back molars, bad breath, and a bad taste in your mouth. You may also experience tender or bleeding gums and have difficulty opening your mouth.
Wisdom tooth infection symptoms should not be ignored, as an infection can spread to other teeth or even other parts of the body. Tooth infections can also cause jaw damage. If you have these symptoms, consult our dental practice for a wisdom tooth assessment.
Wisdom tooth infections must be treated to prevent further damage to your teeth.
Your dentist will probably prescribe antibiotics to kill harmful bacteria before wisdom teeth removal.
You will also likely be given pain medications to manage the discomfort before and after a procedure.
Treatment of an infected wisdom tooth will likely involve wisdom teeth removal surgery. Your dentist will remove the infected tooth, or all your wisdom teeth at once, to improve your oral health.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery
Although this is a common dental procedure, wisdom teeth removal surgery can still be dangerous, so it’s important to find a trusted dental practice to do the job.
Patients need local anesthesia, administered through an injection in the gums, or general anesthesia for wisdom teeth removal, which usually takes around 20 minutes to perform. We also offer IV sedation at our practice for nervous or anxious patients. The dentist often removes wisdom teeth in sections to protect the nerves and jawbone.
Possible Side Effects of an Extraction
This type of surgery can cause additional infections, especially if the patient practices poor oral hygiene or has unhealthy habits, like smoking.
Infection generally occurs within the two weeks following the procedure, but the wisdom teeth area can become infected up to two months after surgery. Antibiotics can be used to remedy an infection, but it’s important to monitor the removal site and notify your dentist if you suspect an infection.
Dry socket is another potential side effect that happens when the extraction site doesn’t heal properly. If this occurs, you’ll feel intense discomfort around the area within several days of the procedure. You will likely need to return to the dentist to flush out the area and/or have the socket dressed. Prescription pain medication is also often used.
Other side effects of wisdom teeth removal surgery include bleeding, numbness in your mouth or surrounding areas, and jawbone weakness.
How To Prevent Wisdom Teeth Infections?
Good dental hygiene can help prevent wisdom teeth infections. This includes twice-daily teeth-brushing, regular flossing, and biannual dental checkups so your dentist can monitor the development of your wisdom teeth.
Drinking water can also help prevent food and bacteria from building up on your molars. It’s also best to avoid sugary foods and beverages that can coat your teeth and encourage bacterial growth.
Other Common Wisdom Teeth Problems
Discomfort around your wisdom teeth may have other causes besides infection. Because wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow in, they are often left with insufficient room to grow correctly. Teeth with these problems are called impacted teeth. Impacted teeth may stay below the surface of your gums, push other teeth, or grow incorrectly and also require treatment from a dental professional.
Impacted teeth that trap bacteria and food particles often suffer plaque buildup which increases your risk of soft-tissue infections, gum disease, tooth decay, cysts, and abscesses. If your wisdom teeth are trapped below your gums, the dentist may remove gum tissue above the tooth to allow it to grow properly.
If your impacted wisdom tooth has roots near the lingual or inferior alveolar nerve, your dentist might recommend a Coronectomy to reduce the risk of nerve damage. This procedure removes the top of the impacted tooth and leaves the root intact to protect nerves and the jaw. A Coronectomy is not often recommended to treat an infected tooth.
What To Do If You Suspect A Tooth Infection
If you think your wisdom tooth might be infected, contact your dentist to schedule an examination and determine the next steps. In the meantime, there are steps you can take at home to ease the discomfort and promote oral health.
A saltwater or hydrogen peroxide and water rinse can be used to slow the growth of or even remove bacteria. Cold compresses can be used to reduce swelling or inflammation, and over-the-counter pain medications can help you manage the discomfort until a dental procedure.
Wisdom teeth extractions are some of the most common dental surgeries and are often necessary to treat wisdom teeth infections. If you have pain or swelling at the back of your mouth, don’t hesitate to contact our practice.
The right dental practice can have a large impact on the quality of care you receive. Sydney Dental Group performs quality extractions with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. You can book an appointment for a wisdom teeth assessment today by calling (02) 9158 6135.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.