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Complications To Watch For After A Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Almost anyone who has reached their 30's has gone through a wisdom tooth extraction. If your wisdom teeth are still in your mouth, knowing what to watch for following your extraction, and what you can do to avoid these problems, can save you from serious pain and additional time in your oral surgeon's office. While not normally life threatening, certain complications can have dire results if not properly addressed in a timely manner.

Dry Socket

One of the most commonly recognized complications of a wisdom tooth extraction, dry socket or dry gap occurs when the natural clot that forms after an extraction is either too large or becomes dislodged. This can happen due to a number of factors, but is most likely if you're drinking from a straw, smoking or have a clotting disorder that you didn't inform the dentist about in advance. The result is an increased risk of infection, and an throbbing pain at the extraction site which is unaffected by pain medication.

The extraction site will need to be flushed out by your oral surgeon, to remove any debris that may have found its way in, or which may be impeding clot formation. The site will then need to be repacked with gauze and a medicated dressing to fight off infection. Left untreated, dry gap can result in an infection of the bone tissue, which, like all infections, can lead to high fevers, hospitalization, septicemia and even death.

Nerve Damage

Even with all the planning in the world, some things can escape the notice of the best surgeons around. Nerve damage and injury is usually the result of the trigeminal nerve in your jaw taking an irregular path, which can sometimes even include passing through or wrapping around the root of a wisdom tooth. While there's nothing you can do to prevent this, there are signs to be aware of so that the injury can be treated promptly.

If you notice numbness, tingling or pain in your lower lip, teeth, tongue or gums, this can be a sign of nerve damage. If this lingers after the local anesthetic has worn off, you should contact your oral surgeon's office to have it checked out. Early identification of nerve injury will minimize the risk of permanent  damage.

As long as you follow the post-surgery instructions, you should recover in a few days. Keep the extraction site clean, brush daily, and avoid returning to regular routines until the prescribed amount of time has passed. Your oral surgeon should advise you of potential risks, but the more information you can gather prior to your extraction appointment, the better your chances of recognizing warning signs. For more information, contact a company like Oral & Maxillofacial Surgical Associates.