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Is Your Wisdom Tooth Infected?

Posted on 12/25/2015 by Jeffery Gerhardt
A man suffering from an infected wisdom tooth.It's common knowledge that the wisdom teeth tend to give us a lot of problems, and for that reason, many people elect to have them taken out as a preventative measure. These teeth usually erupt in the late teens, and compared to the other teeth, they are especially prone to infection. If you still have your wisdom teeth and suspect that one might be infected, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.

Wisdom Teeth Are Prone to Infection

The wisdom teeth are often referred to as the third molars, and they are located in the very back of the mouth. Often there is limited room available for them, so when they grow in, they'll be situated flush against the second molars. This awkward placement makes them at a high risk of developing an infection.

The wisdom teeth are typically very difficult to reach with flossing and brushing. While you may think that you are brushing well, you can inadvertently neglect these teeth, leaving them improperly cleaned. This can result in the accumulation of plaque and food in between the teeth, which can promote growth of dangerous bacteria that can result in decay and infection.

Even if your tooth hasn't erupted all the way through the gums, it can still develop a painful infection. The tooth could be partially covered with gum tissue, and if debris is able to get stuck underneath this flap, infection may also result.

Symptoms of an Infected Wisdom Tooth

The most common sign that you have a wisdom tooth infection is pain in the area. In some situations, this pain can radiate into the rest of the jaw, throat, and neck. Some people also experience headaches.

Pain isn't the only symptom that could indicate infection. Some infections can cause swollen lymph glands or a sore throat, and other common signs can include a bad taste in the mouth, the drainage of pus from the area, and swelling in the jaw and face. You might also find that it is difficult to eat or chew on that side of your mouth.

Treating Wisdom Tooth Infections

There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options to treat wisdom tooth infections. Since over 80% of wisdom teeth will need to be removed, many dentists will simply recommend extracting the wisdom teeth in order to prevent future infections.

Wisdom tooth extractions should take less than an hour to complete, and you'll be given anesthesia so that you don't feel any pain throughout the process. Most people are asleep throughout the entire surgery in order to stay as comfortable as possible and to avoid moving.

In many cases, your oral surgeon will need to cut into the bone or gums in order to get the wisdom teeth out. These teeth are difficult to extract, and since many are still under the gum line, cutting into the gum is often necessary. Once the tooth has been removed, the wound will be stitched shut so that it can heal more quickly, and most stitches will dissolve on their own in a matter of days. Many people also have gauze stuffed into the mouth in order to deal with some of the bleeding.

If, for some reason, you aren't a surgical candidate or would rather avoid going through the procedure, non-surgical treatments can be sought. Your oral surgeon or dentist may also treat your infection with antibiotics. Penicillin is the most commonly prescribed, unless you have an allergy. You can take ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin to relieve pain and discomfort, but your dentist could also prescribe something stronger.

If you suspect that your wisdom teeth might be infected, please contact us to have your issue assessed.

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