Tooth Abscess After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Tooth abscess is a rare complication observed after wisdom tooth extraction. However, you can completely avoid this condition by following your doctor's instruction on aftercare and by taking some precautions. Find out all this in the following HealthHearty article.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
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Abscess is caused due to bacterial infection. If not treated in time, this infection may lead to brain, heart, or liver abscess.

Wisdom teeth are molars, which usually appear after the age of 16 and before the age of 25. An average individual will usually have 4 wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw, and two in the lower jaw. However, there have been cases where individuals report having less than 4, or even no wisdom teeth. As a wisdom tooth appears later than the other teeth, it may get blocked by the neighboring teeth, a condition known as an impacted wisdom tooth. This can result in soreness, pain, damage to adjoining teeth and roots, decay, cyst formation and other dental problems. To avoid all these conditions, dentists and oral surgeons recommend extraction.
Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure which is performed under the influence of local anesthesia or general anesthesia, depending upon the condition of the tooth. Dentists use an X-ray to determine the position of the tooth, and if it needs to be extracted or not. The surgeon will cut open the gum covering the tooth, and remove any bone covering the tooth before extraction. If removing the entire tooth is difficult, the dentist might break the tooth into smaller pieces before extraction. After extraction, the gum is usually stitched back, with either regular stitches, or soluble stitches, and dressed with a cotton gauze to prevent bleeding. You will have to visit your dentist a few more times for checkups, and to remove non-soluble stitches, if any.
Complications After Wisdom Tooth Removal
Wisdom teeth removal is a difficult procedure, and there are a few risks and complications that are associated with it. Swelling, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, pain, etc., are relatively common, and may abate in a day or two after the extraction. However, certain other complications, like dry socket, abscesses, root fragmentation, etc., are more serious and need immediate medical attention.
What Can Cause Tooth Abscess
A tooth abscess is a pocket filled with pus, that is caused by a bacterial infection. It is actually a result of the immune response of the body. White blood cells collect at the site of infection to kill the bacteria. This causes pain and exerts pressure on the area, till it erupts and drains out the pus. A bacterial infection can be caused due to the following factors.
Infection at the Surgical Site
An infection at the surgical site is not a common occurrence in case of tooth extraction, and should be taken seriously, if present. If not treated in time, it may affect the adjoining tooth or gum. Usually, the infection is minor, but in extreme cases it may cause severe cellulitis, and even brain, heart, or liver abscesses.
Root Fragments
Sometimes, during surgery, the root is left behind, which, in rare cases, can cause an infection. Usually, oral surgeons avoid removing the root fragment, as it may affect the dental structure. It is removed only when absolutely necessary, or if the root gets infected, which further leads to an abscess.
Damage to the Adjacent Tooth and Gum
Tooth removal may sometimes cause damage to the adjacent tooth and gums. This complication is quite common, and sometimes may cause infection and an abscess in the damaged tooth.
Signs That Indicate an Abscess
There are a number of signs and symptoms which may indicate tooth infection, leading to tooth abscesses. Following are some of them.
  • Severe tooth throbbing
  • Normal to severe toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Fever exceeding 100ºF
  • Swelling on cheek or face
  • Bad taste in mouth
  • Tenderness at the infected area
  • Yellow or white discharge from the infection site
Tooth Abscess Treatment
Tooth abscesses are normally diagnosed with the help of an X-ray, which also helps to diagnose the spread of infection and formation of abscess in the adjoining tooth. Once the test confirms the presence of a tooth abscess, treatment depends upon the severity of the infection. The following are some treatment methods which may be administered depending on the condition of the tooth.
  • If it is a minor infection, your dentist will make a small cut into the abscess and allow the pus to drain.
  • Antibiotics will be prescribed to stop the spread of the infection further.
Tips to Avoid an Abscess After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The following are some tips which can help you to avoid a tooth abscess.
  • Complete the course of antibiotics prescribed by your dentist.
  • Do not touch the extraction site, as it may cause infection. Don't even move your tongue over the surgery site.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water or mouthwash (if prescribed by your dentist), every two hours and even after eating anything.
  • Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol completely, at least for one month after the surgery.
  • Maintain proper oral hygiene; brush your teeth twice a day to make sure no food particles get lodged between the teeth.
Regular dental checkups are essential to avoid dental problems. This will help in early diagnosis of an abscess, which in turn will reduce the risk of infection and other dental problems.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.