Because wisdom teeth are large and the last molars to arrive, often there isn’t enough room for them to emerge properly. In these cases, they need to be extracted. If a wisdom tooth becomes infected—a common side effect to impaction—you might need to have the infection treated before the tooth can be removed.
Treating an Infected Wisdom Tooth
If a wisdom tooth is severely infected, your dentist might recommend treating the infection before proceeding to oral surgery to extract the tooth. If the tooth is removed without treatment, the infection is more likely to spread, and could lead to serious—even life-threatening—complications. The infection could also worsen after extraction and compromise the healing process.
Treating the infection before extraction greatly reduces these risks. In addition, if you are suffering from discomfort due to the infection, treatment will reduce this and allow you to be more comfortable before, during, and after oral surgery to remove the tooth. You’ll probably be prescribed a course of antibiotics for a few days before the surgery, then again afterward to prevent infection during your healing.
Why Would a Wisdom Tooth Become Infected?
Wisdom teeth often become impacted, which can lead to infection. Impaction means the tooth is trying to emerge but becomes “stuck” in some way. For example, if there isn’t enough room in the mouth, the wisdom tooth might partially emerge from the gum but not be able to emerge all the way. Some wisdom teeth are at a bad angle and butt up against adjacent teeth to such an extent that they can’t emerge fully.
Impaction leads to infection most often when the tooth is partially emerged. The broken area in the gum, as well as the portion of the tooth that’s exposed, provides numerous surfaces where bacteria can collect. It becomes difficult to clean the area with regular brushing, and as the bacteria builds up, inflammation and then infection develops. If a tooth is partially erupted and has become red, swollen, or uncomfortable, see your dentist as soon as possible.
Our oral surgeons are highly trained and experienced in wisdom teeth extraction. Contact us today at one of our convenient locations if you’re ready to schedule a consultation!