This article will explain how the two are connected and what exactly happens if an extracted wisdom tooth causes an infection. First though we shall briefly detail the process of extracting wisdom teeth.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is done in a similar way to normal tooth extraction, but it is often more complex because of the location and position of the teeth. In some cases, dentists refer patients to oral surgeons for wisdom tooth extractions, as they are specialists in complex procedures. The wisdom teeth can be extracted under sedation, local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic; if a patient chooses to have general anaesthetic, the procedure will be done in hospital.
Complications of Wisdom Tooth Extraction
As with all surgical, medical and dental procedures, there are risks associated with wisdom tooth extraction; complications are rare but they do happen and it is important for patients to be aware of the potential risks before they have treatment.
Often, impacted wisdom teeth are located close to the nerves. This means that there is risk of numbness and a temporary loss of sensation caused by nerve bruising; patients may also experience a tingling sensation.
Dry socket is another complication of wisdom tooth removal; usually, after the procedure, a blood clot forms over the bone; if the clot does not form or it is washed away somehow, the bone is exposed and this can be very painful. Further treatment is required for dry socket; the main symptom is a constant throbbing pain.
Swelling after the procedure can make it difficult to open the mouth fully; however, inflammation should subside and patients can take over the counter painkillers.
Sinus Problems and Wisdom Tooth Extraction
One possible complication of wisdom tooth extraction is sinus problems; these may occur when a patient is having an upper wisdom tooth extracted, as the tooth roots are located close to the sinuses. It is possible for the sinuses to be opened during the extraction procedure and this carries a risk of infection; usually, the opening, known as a fistula, closes independently after the operation (the surgeon may suggest some precautions to aid healing, including sleeping in an upright position). If the opening does not close, bacteria from the mouth can travel into the sinuses and this may cause infection. If there is an infection, the hole in the gum cannot close and this can be painful.
If the tooth roots are located close to the sinus cavity, dentists often take extra precautions during and after the extraction procedure. Precautions include avoiding blowing the nose for at least 3 weeks after the extraction, avoiding smoking, sneezing with the mouth open and avoiding flying or scuba diving.
In order to relieve some of the pressure that may be present, patients take antihistamines in order to feel slightly more drowsy and relaxed. Methods such as this though should be avoided until the infection is diagnosed. Once this occurs, many patients are also given a course of antibiotics to prevent infection.
Written by James, a dental healthcare writer currently working with the experts at dhealth.