Third molars, informally referred to as wisdom teeth, are the last set of teeth to erupt from the jawline. An evolutionary hangover from a time when coarse foods and poor hygiene resulted in extensive tooth loss for people by their late teens and early twenties, modern diets and hygiene routines mean patients typically keep their healthy, natural teeth well past their early twenties making a third set of molars unnecessary. Approximately 85% of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted, and it is the most common type of oral surgery performed in most dental offices. Patients have wisdom teeth removed due to crowding that may cause other teeth to shift, and impaction, the inability of a tooth to erupt from the gum line. While this procedure typically presents minimal risk for patients, there are a few potential oral health concerns directly related to wisdom tooth extraction, and knowing the warning signs and symptoms of each is the best way to ensure your recovery period is quick and comfortable.
The most frequently occurring issue following wisdom tooth extraction is dry socket. This complication occurs when the healing socket either does not form a blood clot or the blood clot becomes dislodge or otherwise displaced rendering the socket “dry.” In some severe cases, patients can see inside the socket to the underlying jawbone. The empty socket causes aching pain. The best way to identify dry socket is visually. Check your healing gums regularly to ensure the socket appears “full.” If there is a large hole accompanied by severe pain or foul smell in the mouth, you may be experiencing dry socket. Contact your dentist or oral surgeon right away. This painful condition is easily remedied with analgesics, medicated dressings, and deep cleansing of the affected area. Patients who don’t properly care for their wound, who smoke, or who are over the age of 25 are at an increased risk for dry socket.
Dry socket is the most common oral health concern following wisdom tooth extraction, but nerve damage, while not as frequent, does occur. This condition causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the lip, cheek, teeth, and gums making regular activities like eating, drinking, and speaking clearly challenging. While the risk for nerve damage is minimal and symptoms typically last only a few weeks, it’s still important for patients to be aware of this condition, and visit their dentist or physician right away.
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If you’re in need of wisdom tooth extraction or are experiencing pain following removal, contact the Texas Wisdom Teeth team today. Other issue patients experience are infection and severe blood loss. If you have severe swelling, pus, fever, or nausea, your socket may be infected. If bleeding hasn’t completely stopped or significantly slowed within 12 hours and stopped completely within 48, contact your dentist or proceed to an emergency room for care.