Infection can occur in many areas of the body including your mouth and more specifically, your wisdom teeth. In fact, having an infected wisdom tooth is a common symptom associated with impacted wisdom teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth occur when your third set of molars, otherwise known as wisdom teeth, don’t grow in properly or all the way. When a wisdom tooth erupts only partially, the opening can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in a wisdom tooth infection. (1)
Otherwise known as pericoronitis, a wisdom tooth infection is serious and can be a bit tricky to treat. That’s because when your wisdom teeth don’t come in all the way, a flap of gum will cover where the partial eruption started. Your wisdom tooth infection is unlikely to heal until this flap of gum is removed, your wisdom tooth comes in all the way, or the wisdom tooth is removed. (2)
Surgical Treatment for Wisdom Tooth Infection
Since approximately 85 percent of all wisdom teeth need to be removed (3), many dentists will recommend extraction to prevent further wisdom tooth infection. If you are not a candidate for surgery, or if you prefer to avoid it, there may be other treatment options.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Wisdom Tooth Infection
Regardless of whether or not you choose surgery, you should still visit a dental professional if you think you have a wisdom tooth infection. In the meantime, you can use an ice pack to reduce swelling, rinse with saltwater, or take some over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin.