It’s Wise to Avoid a Wisdom Tooth Infection
Anyone who has ever suffered from a painful wisdom teeth infection will tell you it’s best to avoid this situation altogether. The pain associated with a wisdom tooth infection can be extreme and should be treated quickly to avoid further complications.
The Basics of Wisdom Teeth Infections
Wisdom teeth, also known as your third molars, are the last teeth to come into your mouth. This typically occurs between the ages of 17 and 25. (1) Unfortunately, the mouth and jaw are often not large enough to accommodate these new teeth (2), which can lead to a series of problems. Other problems often associated with wisdom teeth eruption occur if the wisdom teeth grow in sideways, emerge only partially, or get trapped beneath the gum and bone. Any of these complications can lead to a painful wisdom tooth infection, otherwise known as pericoronitis. This occurs when bacteria and food pieces get trapped under the flap near your wisdom teeth, leading to infection. (3)
Wisdom Teeth Infection: What Are Wisdom Teeth For?
The truth is we don’t really need our wisdom teeth, which is why dental professionals often recommend wisdom teeth extraction to treat wisdom teeth infection. You may wonder why we have wisdom teeth if we don’t really need them. Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth were evolution’s response to our ancestors’ early diet of rough foods such as roots, nuts, and meats that require serious chewing power. Since our diets today consist of softer foods, evolutionary biologists have classified wisdom teeth as functionless due to evolution. (4)
What to Do When Wisdom Teeth Infection or Pain Strikes
There are numerous ways to treat wisdom teeth infection, including a conservative approach to treatment or surgical extraction. If your wisdom teeth have come in without problems, your dental professional may choose to leave them in and watch them over time.
Treating Wisdom Teeth Infection: The Conservative Approach
However, if you begin to experience pain caused by wisdom teeth infection, your dental professional or oral surgeon may recommend a conservative approach to treatment such as using over-the-counter pain relievers, antibiotics for the infection, mouthwashes, or saltwater rinses. These methods can be effective for individuals with certain health problems such as a bleeding disorder who prefer not to undergo surgery. However, if your wisdom teeth infection worsens, surgery may become your best chance for relief.
Treating Wisdom Teeth Infection: The Surgical Approach
Surgical extraction is a common method for avoiding complications such as wisdom teeth infection. Experts believe that when infected wisdom teeth cause complications, they should be removed to prevent further problems. (5)
Wisdom teeth extraction can be done either in your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office. Either local or general anesthesia can be used to help you avoid discomfort during the procedure.
To remove the impacted tooth, an incision is made in your gums so the infected teeth and jawbone can be reached. Once the teeth are extracted, you may need stitches to close the incision. The socket where your teeth were located will be packed with gauze to control bleeding and promote healing. (5)
Once your wisdom teeth are removed, your dental professional or oral surgeon should give you clear instructions on how to care for your mouth. Be sure to follow their instructions to ensure a prompt recovery.
Don’t Delay Treatment for Wisdom Teeth Infection
Whether you choose a conservative or surgical approach to treating your wisdom teeth infection, take action quickly. If you ignore the symptoms of wisdom teeth infection, the problem is likely to worsen. Also, the older you get, the more challenging an extraction procedure can be. So, if you experience wisdom teeth infection, don’t delay—seek treatment and you’ll experience great relief once your mouth is back in good health.