Having a toothache is a burden; there is no doubt about that. The pain and sensitivity you feel somehow radiate to different parts of your body, making you weak, tired, and agitated. What’s worse is that a tooth infection can lead to many medical conditions once the bacteria reach your bloodstream. One of the most popular tooth problems that teens and adults face is wisdom tooth infection. This becomes extra challenging because no antibiotic medication can treat it; only surgery can.
Wisdom Tooth Infection
As we all know, our wisdom teeth and the last set of upper and lower molars grow in and erupt. They coined that name because they usually erupt when teens become adults, around the ages of 17 to 25. Because all your other adult teeth found their own position before your third molars erupt, there are times when no space is left for them to grow in. This leads you to have an impacted wisdom tooth. Once wisdom tooth impaction happens, sooner or later, dental problems will arise especially when they decide to erupt.
Why Do I Have Wisdom Tooth Infection?
You can say that a typical wisdom tooth, all grown in and aligned with your teeth, is hard to clean. It may easily get infected because food debris and bacteria can get stuck between the tooth and the gums. And because they are the farthest from your reach while you brush your teeth, the space between your wisdom tooth and the back of your mouth can be easy to miss when you are brushing and flossing.
Impacted wisdom teeth happen when no space is available for them to grow out of your gums. Your third molar may incompletely come out, develop at an angle (diagonally), or do not emerge because it grew completely sideways inside the gums.
Of these three situations, the partially impacted wisdom tooth has the highest risk of infection. Because a part of the crown still hides under the gums, food debris and bacteria can easily seep in through space in between. It is also because the shape and angle of the molar make it harder to be cleaned, causing tooth decay more likely to occur. A wisdom tooth infection or cavity can develop when an overgrowth of harmful bacteria makes holes in the outer tooth layer called enamel.
Wisdom Tooth Infection Symptoms
While your wisdom teeth are hard to see and feel inside your mouth, the presence of infection around these pearly whites can become as evident as when the infection affects your front teeth. Once a wisdom tooth infection arises, you may feel one or more of the following typical symptoms:
- Pain around the tooth near your jawline
- Swollen and red gum around the tooth
- Bad breath
- Pain when chewing or even just opening the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
Do not think the wisdom tooth infection only happens with the tooth still in place. Sometimes, wisdom tooth extraction can also make you vulnerable to infection. Studies show that patients who underwent molar extraction can experience a dry socket, bleeding, nerve damage, and yes, infection.
Treatment Of Wisdom Tooth Infection
Like any tooth infection, the treatments your dentist recommends would largely depend on what the cause of the dental disease is and how severe the infection is.
Once you feel any of the symptoms stated earlier and you figured out that it came from a wisdom tooth infection, you may consult your dentist and undergo deep cleaning or scaling and root planing. Cleaning the teeth and gums to remove any debris or plaque buildup will help your doctor determine the location and severity of the damage. Knowing the extent of the problem enables him to decide the next treatment step.
Management of your symptoms because of your infected wisdom tooth may seem to have practical and short-term benefits. It defeats any discomfort that you may feel. Take the pain reliever of choice for any soreness or sensitivity. You can also try home remedies like clove oil or oil pulling if you feel that it can let you get through the day comfortably while waiting for your dental appointment. Antipyretics and anti-inflammatories also work if you have fever and swelling, respectively.
Oral medications to combat the infection may be the first line of offense your dentist may prescribe. The type of bacteria and the severity of the damage it caused determines the type of antibiotic treatment and the dosage and frequency of the meds.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Do not get us wrong; not all impacted wisdom teeth cause problems all at once. There are times when they lie peacefully without causing any discomfort or tooth damage. However, if your impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, there is nothing else your dentist can do except to remove it.
The dentist will perform typical treatment steps just like any other tooth extraction, except for some unique approaches.
During your wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist or oral surgeon will make an incision in your gums to expose the tooth and remove any bone that may obstruct the access to the impacted tooth root. Some molars are sometimes too big to be easily extracted, so your dentist may need to break them down into smaller pieces to make sure that all tooth parts are fully extracted. After removing the tooth, the dentist or oral surgeon typically closes the wound with stitches and packs the empty space, called a socket, with gauze.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Aftercare
Tooth extractions typically cause mild to moderate pain that patients find easily tolerable. However, wisdom tooth removal often causes more soreness and discomfort compared to other tooth extractions, so you need support and proper aftercare instructions from your dentist.
Verbalize Your Concerns
Before your scheduled or emergency tooth extraction, discuss with your dentist all your worries and concerns. Your dentist is the only credible and reliable person who can answer your queries regarding the process and what to expect afterward.
Many patients would have someone to help them with their daily needs for the first few days. Your dentist may require work and movement restrictions and limitations to avoid any untoward complications and give time for complete healing.
Extraction Of Asymptomatic Impacted Wisdom Tooth
Above all else, what you need to understand is the fact that prevention is better than cure. Your dentist may not strongly advise you to have your impacted wisdom teeth be extracted all at once, especially if they do not cause any symptoms of discomfort. But know that the only way for you to prevent any future problem is to remove these molars once and for all. Because sooner or later, they may either cause you to develop an infection or cause neighboring teeth problems if they develop and push adjacent teeth towards the front. Listen to the expert advice of your dentist so he can guide you appropriately.
Wisdom tooth infection is not a rare dental problem. It can happen to anyone whose third molars either are delayed in erupting or are partially impacted. The best move you can do when faced with this condition, just like any other tooth infection, is to seek the advice and expertise of a professional dentist as soon as possible.