Possible Widsom Teeth Complications

Despite being a relatively straightforward procedure that typically goes well, complications from wisdom tooth extraction can occur. Fortunately, most of the complications can be prevented or reduced by following the dentist’s instructions and notifying them if any issues arise. This article will address the five most common complications that arise from wisdom tooth extraction and what to do if the signs develop.

Alveolar Osteitis (Dry Socket)

Following wisdom tooth extraction, blood clots form over the wound to help heal the mouth. Also called dry socket, alveolar osteitis occurs if the blood clot dislodges exposing the nerves under the gum to food debris or air. Research studies show that dry socket occurs in roughly 40% of patients that have teeth extracted. Smokers were also shown to have a higher risk of developing dry socket than those who do not.
The National Health Service (NHS) indicates that dry sockets can occur three to five days after wisdom tooth extraction. Symptoms include sharp or throbbing pain at the site of extraction. Should this pain develop, it is important to contact the dentist or oral surgeon so they can clean and cover the exposed area.

Swelling and Pain

Some swelling and pain are to be expected in the first one to three days following tooth extractions. One study published in the American Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, showed that all of the 101 patients surveyed that had wisdom teeth extracted reported swelling and pain. Pain is generally manageable with over-the-counter pain medications but in some case, the dentist or oral surgeon could prescribe pain killers. If pain is severe or persists after a few days following surgery, contact the dentist for advice or an examination.

Restricted Mouth Opening

Trismus, or discomfort or restriction opening the mouth, could be temporarily experienced following a lengthy procedure like tooth removal. If trismus or jaw stiffness is prolonged, the dentist may prescribe treatments like muscle relaxants, jaw opening devices, heat therapy, and pain medications.

Excessive Bleeding

It takes time for blood to clot over the extraction sites. As such, some bleeding is normal within the initial 8 to 12 hours following extraction surgery. The oral surgeon or dentist will provide aftercare instructions to minimize bleeding risks that may include rinsing the mouth with saltwater, avoiding smoking, and sticking to a diet of soft foods. It may also be recommended to avoid strenuous physical activity as elevating the heartrate could exacerbate bleeding.
Numbness of the Lips
Because the teeth are near the inferior alveolar nerve, numbness of the lips, although rare, could develop following wisdom tooth extraction. Should the nerve get damaged during extraction, lip or jaw numbness can develop. Numbness is typically temporary but can be permanent if the nerve is severely damaged. In general, this complication is rare with wisdom tooth extractions.

Prior to surgery, the surgeon or dentist will discuss the possible complications associated with wisdom tooth extraction as well as ways to minimize their risks. Following aftercare instructions and maintaining good oral hygiene will help ensure optimal results and expedite recovery time.

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