5 Signs Of Serious Complications Of Wisdom Tooth Removal

Most people, especially parents of teenagers and young adults, consider wisdom tooth removal a regular rite of passage for oral health. While the vast majority of wisdom tooth removal surgeries and procedures go smoothly, there are a handful of serious complications that can occur after the surgery is completed. Watch yourself or your child for these five serious signs of a problem, and call a dentist immediately if you notice any of them.


A fever that lasts for more than an hour or two is a meaningful sign of infection, especially in the first day or two immediately after a surgery. Don't wait until the fever spikes or give the patient a few days to get over it on their own. It's safer for you or your child to see the dentist immediately and rule out infection or start on an immediate course of antibiotics. Quick treatment of an early infection can prevent it from becoming life threatening.


It's perfectly normal to experience numbness in the mouth and face after a wisdom tooth extraction as the anesthetics wear off. This numbness may last a few days, but long-term numbness indicates the procedure resulted in nerve damage. Nerve damage, or paresthesia, can result in a speech impediment or difficulty tasting and chewing food. See your dentist for a nerve test if you or your child experiences significant facial numbness two or three weeks after the procedure. The dentist may be able to reverse the nerve damage and restore feeling to the numb portions of the mouth and face, but only when the repairs are done quickly instead of months or years down the road.


Swelling is so routine following wisdom tooth surgery that it's been nicknamed the chipmunk procedure. However, that swelling should drop within the first few days after surgery and not return. If you notice facial swelling days after the initial distortion went away, you could be facing a very serious and rare bone infection known as osteomylitis. The swelling could be dramatic or barely noticeable, but you'll also experience a fever and stiffness in the jaw. This infection can become life-threatening if not treated immediately, so see your dentist or even an emergency room doctor for late stage facial swelling. Don't wait to see if it gets better on its own, since you'll need weeks of antibiotics just to treat a mild case.


Depending on how the teeth were removed, you'll feel sore and achy for a few days to weeks as the sockets heal. Throbbing pains will eventually fade, but if they don't or they suddenly return, watch out for other symptoms of infection. Throbbing pains after wisdom tooth removal can also indicate food stuck in the sockets or a condition known as dry socket. If your pain goes from manageable with pain killers to outright unbearable, you've likely disrupted the blood clot protecting the wisdom tooth socket.

Your dentist can cover the areas with a sterile gel to soothe the pain and encourage faster healing. If the pain is due to a stray popcorn hull or a bit of apple skin, the dentist can also clean out the wound and even close it with a few stitches to prevent the problem from happening again.


Finally, don't worry about short-term jaw stiffness or difficulties opening your mouth. The tendons and muscles around your jaw will slowly loosen up with time after surgery. However, a sudden decrease in jaw flexibility is a warning sign of infection or a complication of nerve damage. Only a dentist or oral surgeon can determine what's triggering the jaw to tighten up again and if it needs surgical treatment or medication.

For more information, contact a dentist at an office like Dental Associates PC.