One of the reasons we remove wisdom teeth is because their location in the mouth makes them prime candidates for infection. When there is not enough room for wisdom teeth to completely emerge, it is called partial impaction. Partially-impacted wisdom teeth are particularly susceptible to infection because bacteria can easily become trapped in the gum tissue surrounding the part of the wisdom tooth that has broken through. If you believe you have signs of wisdom tooth infection, or pericoronitis, it is important to give us a call right away. Here's what to look for:
One of the first signs of wisdom tooth infection is redness in the gum tissue where the tooth is emerging. Of course, the eruption of a wisdom tooth alone is enough to cause some redness and pain, but in the case of infection, the pain is intense, the redness persists, and you may also experience swelling and even bleeding. The gum tissue is usually so tender that it is difficult to brush your teeth in this area of the mouth.
You may experience jaw pain or even muscle spasms in your jaw when you have a wisdom tooth infection. Again, jaw pain is not uncommon when wisdom teeth emerge, but in the case of infection, you will experience intense, throbbing pain rather than simple discomfort.
When there is a wisdom tooth infection, swelling typically starts in the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth. As the infection progresses, this swelling can spread beyond the gum tissue and extend to the face and lymph nodes as well.
Foul Odor and Taste
The infected gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth may fill with pus; as this pus seeps out into the mouth, it can cause bad breath and an unpleasant taste. Warm salt water rinses can temporarily alleviate these symptoms, but they must be addressed by your oral surgeon.
As with an infection anywhere else in the body, you may have a fever or chills. If you are experiencing any of the other symptoms listed here along with a fever, it is almost certain that your wisdom tooth is infected.
Swelling, jaw spasms, and painful gums can all lead to extreme pain when eating, particularly when biting down and applying pressure to the infected area. Additionally, the foul taste in your mouth may make food unappetizing.
Treating Wisdom Tooth Infection
If you're showing signs of wisdom tooth infection, prompt treatment is crucial. Wisdom tooth infections can spread throughout the mouth and even to other parts of the body; if this occurs, you may need to be hospitalized. Treatment of wisdom tooth infection typically involves cleaning the area to remove bacteria and food debris and a course of oral antibiotics, followed by wisdom tooth extraction once the infection has resolved.
Make an Appointment
With five locations in Oklahoma, OMA provides a full range of simple and complex oral and maxillofacial surgical services. If you suspect you may have an infected wisdom tooth contact the nearest location at 405-848-7994 (Oklahoma City), 405-292-8900 (Norman), 405-733-4296 (Midwest City), 405-341-4022 (Edmond), or 405-751-3312 (Lakeside) to schedule your initial consultation.