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Wisdom Teeth Removal Complications

Wisdom Teeth Extractions in Auburn, WA

It is good to know that in most cases, having your wisdom teeth out is pretty straight forward and that if you follow the post operative instructions prescribed by your dentist your recovery will go very smooth.  Occasionally you can encounter complications.  This posting will discuss some of the not so common complications that can arise after wisdom teeth removal.

  • Dry Socket
  • Infection
  • Jaw Fracture
  • Sinus Exposure
  • Paresthesia / Nerve Damage

Dry Socket Formation

A dry socket typically develops on the third or fourth day after wisdom tooth extraction surgery.  It is extremely painful.  One will experience far more pain from a dry socket than from the normal pain to be expected after the procedure.  A dry socket is probably one of the most common complications that can arise from having your wisdom teeth out.  A dry socket is basically exposed bone where the wisdom tooth used to be.  After you get your wisdom teeth out, you want a blood clot to form in the hole.  This blood clot is like a scab forming over a cut on your arm.  If an adequate blood clot has failed to form in the hole where the tooth used to be or the blood clot was dislodged within the first 24-48 hours, the underlying bone will be exposed to the elements of your mouth, hence a “dry socket.”   The blood clot is necessary to the body’s healing process to be carried out and having a dry socket will delay and compromise your healing.   Smoking, swishing, spitting, eating harsh foods or sucking through a straw in the first few days after wisdom tooth extraction surgery will often lead to a dry socket.  Anything that disturbs the clot in the first few days can potentially cause a blood clot.  If you develop a dry socket, you will need to see your dentist.  They will place a medicated paste inside the tooth socket which will act as a clot and allow your bone to heal.  Follow the post-op care instructions your dentist gives you to help prevent a dry socket.

Post Operative Infection

Anytime you have a surgical procedure, infection is a possibility and when it comes to wisdom teeth removal, there is no exception.  If you notice an abnormal amount of swelling, aching or throbbing pain that develops after you have started healing, a fever, pus-like discharge from the extraction site, or a bad taste in your mouth that does not go away, you should consult your dentist or oral surgeon.  Antibiotics and oral irrigation may be necessary to help your body overcome the infection.  An infection can be serious and become systemic, so don’t overlook the symptoms of a post-op infection.

Jaw Fracture

Occasionally bone around the tooth is removed in order to get to the wisdom tooth and much force is needed to release the tooth from the bone. The force applied to the jaw can cause jaw fracture.  If pain in the jaw does not subside after a few days, an x-ray may be necessary to rule out jaw fracture.

Sinus Exposure

Often times the roots of upper wisdom teeth will extend up into the maxillary sinus cavity.   Occasionally when an upper wisdom tooth is removed or extracted, a hole can open where the roots went into the sinus. This can be dangerous as food and bacteria from your mouth can get into your sinus and cause an infection.  If you develop an exposure hole into the sinus cavity, a second procedure will often be required to close the hole.


Paresthesia basically translates to “prolonged anesthesia” or prolonged numbness.  This is a complication that can occur when removing the lower wisdom teeth.  Occasionally a wisdom tooth in the mandible (lower jawbone) will be in close proximity to a large branch of  nerve tissue called the inferior alveolar nerve.  When the lower wisdom tooth is removed from the mandible, damage can occur at the site of the nerve.  When a nerve is damaged, it can make you feel the sensation of numbness or partial numbness (tingling) in the lower lip, chin and tongue.  This is rarely a permanent side effect and most people regain full sensation after 6 months to one year. Most local anesthetics will last between 2-6 hours.  Seek advice from your dentist if you do not regain full sensation after the numbness should wear off.

If you fear that you may be experiencing anything beyond what is expected after wisdom teeth removal surgery, you should seek care immediately as some of the complications can be serious.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 at 9:18 pm and is filed under Wisdom Teeth. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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