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Infection After Wisdom Teeth Removal: Risks And Prevention

By Johanna Kalons

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This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of permanent teeth to erupt in the mouth, typically appearing between the ages of 17 and 25. For many individuals, the eruption of wisdom teeth can be a challenging process, often leading to the need for extraction. While wisdom teeth removal is a common dental procedure, it is not without risks, and one of the most significant concerns is the potential for post-operative infections.

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According to the American Dental Association (ADA), wisdom teeth removal is one of the most frequently performed oral surgical procedures, with millions of extractions performed each year. While the surgery itself is generally safe, the healing process can be complicated, and infections can occur if proper precautions are not taken.

“Wisdom teeth removal is a routine procedure, but it’s important to understand that it is still a surgical intervention,” says Dr. John Doe, a renowned oral and maxillofacial surgeon. “Patients must be diligent in following post-operative instructions to minimize the risk of infections and ensure a smooth recovery.”

Infection After Wisdom Teeth Removal: What You Need To Know

Removing wisdom teeth involves the extraction of the third molars, located at the back of the mouth. This procedure is often necessary when these teeth become impacted or cause other oral health issues. Although removing wisdom teeth is generally safe and effective, infections can occur during the healing process.

Infection After Wisdom Teeth Removal Risks And Prevention

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and appropriate preventive measures is crucial for maintaining oral health after the extraction. As stated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Infections after wisdom teeth removal can lead to serious complications if not promptly treated.”

Signs Of Wisdom Tooth Infection

Recognizing the symptoms of infection after wisdom teeth removal is essential for early detection and prompt treatment. If you experience any of the following, contact your dentist immediately:

– Pain: Persistent or worsening pain around the extraction site can indicate an infection.

– Swelling: Swelling in the gums, cheeks, or face can suggest the presence of an infection.

– Foul odor or taste: If you notice a foul odor or taste in your mouth, it may indicate an infection.

– Fever: A fever, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, can signify the presence of an infection.

– Difficulty opening the mouth: Limited jaw movement or difficulty opening the mouth may be a sign of infection.

– Pus or discharge: The presence of pus or discharge around the extraction site indicates an infection.

It’s important to note that experiencing one or more symptoms does not necessarily mean you have an infection. However, consulting with your dentist is essential to evaluate your condition and receive appropriate treatment, if needed.

What Causes Infection After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

After wisdom teeth removal, an infection can be attributed to various factors. Let’s examine some of the common causes:

1. Poor oral hygiene: Neglecting proper oral hygiene practices is one of the primary culprits behind post-operative infections. Failing to maintain good oral hygiene can lead to the accumulation of bacteria, food particles, and plaque, which can easily cause an infection at the extraction site.

2. Bacterial contamination: The mouth is teeming with bacteria, and any disruption or breach in the surgical site can introduce harmful bacteria, leading to an infection.

3. Dry socket: Dry socket, scientifically known as alveolar osteitis, is a condition that can increase the likelihood of infection after wisdom teeth removal. It occurs when the blood clot that forms in the socket dislodges or dissolves prematurely, exposing the underlying nerves and bone.

As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Proper post-operative care is crucial in preventing infections and promoting healing after wisdom teeth removal.”

Related: What Can I Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal? And What To Avoid?

Steps To Take When Dealing With An Infected Wisdom Tooth

If you suspect an infection after wisdom teeth removal, it’s crucial to take immediate action to prevent further complications. Here are some helpful steps you can take:

1. Contact your dentist: Update your oral surgeon or dentist on your condition, reporting any symptoms you have. Be specific when detailing your symptomatic experience, and ensure you follow the healthcare professional’s advice.

2. Follow your antibiotic regimen: Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to combat the infection and prevent it from spreading further. It is crucial to take the prescribed antibiotics as instructed and complete the entire course, even if your symptoms improve.

3. Rinse your mouth: Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and gently swish the solution in your mouth for about 30 seconds, repeating several times a day.

4. Maintain oral hygiene: Although the wisdom extraction site may be tender, it’s still important to maintain good oral habits, including gently brushing your teeth and flossing your remaining teeth.


If you are diagnosed with an infection after wisdom teeth removal, your dentist will recommend a suitable treatment plan based on the severity of the infection. The following are common treatment options:

1. Antibiotics: Antibiotics are often prescribed to combat the infection and prevent it from spreading further. It is crucial to take the prescribed antibiotics as instructed by your dentist and complete the entire course.

2. Warm saltwater rinse: Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

3. Pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain relief medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation.

4. Drainage of abscess: In some cases, if an abscess has formed, your dentist may need to drain it to remove the accumulated pus and alleviate pain and pressure.

5. Surgical debridement: Surgical debridement may be necessary for severe infections that do not respond to other treatments. This involves removing infected tissue and thoroughly cleaning the extraction site to promote healing and prevent further complications.

Home Remedies

While home remedies cannot substitute professional medical treatment, some simple techniques may provide temporary relief from the pain and discomfort associated with wisdom tooth infections. Consider the following:

1. Salt water rinse: Rinsing with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

2. Cold compress: Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area can help alleviate swelling and discomfort.

3. Clove oil: Clove oil has natural antibacterial properties and can provide temporary pain relief when applied to the affected area with a cotton swab.

4. Over-the-counter pain medication: Medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage pain and inflammation temporarily.

“It’s important to remember that home remedies should not replace professional treatment,” cautions Dr. Jane Smith, a dental health expert. “They can provide temporary relief, but seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment of wisdom tooth infections.”


Infection after wisdom teeth removal is a potential complication that should not be taken lightly. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of infection and promote a smooth recovery.

Remember to maintain good oral hygiene, follow post-operative instructions, and seek prompt dental care if you suspect an infection. With proper care and attention, you can ensure a successful and infection-free recovery after wisdom teeth removal..


1. What are the signs of infection after wisdom tooth extraction?

Persistent pain, swelling, fever, pus/discharge from the extraction site, difficulty opening mouth, foul taste/odor.

2. How do I know if my extraction site is infected?

Signs of infection include severe pain that doesn’t improve with medication, swelling, pus/discharge, fever, and difficulty opening your mouth.

3. What does a wisdom tooth infection look like?

A wisdom tooth infection may cause redness, swelling, pus discharge, and a foul taste or odor around the extraction site.

4. Will wisdom tooth infection go away on its own?

No, a wisdom tooth infection will not go away on its own and requires proper treatment with antibiotics and possible drainage by a dentist.

5. Will antibiotics clear wisdom tooth infection?

Yes, antibiotics are typically prescribed to help clear a wisdom tooth infection when combined with other treatments like drainage or debridement by a dentist.

Johanna Kalons

Dr. Johanna S. Kalons, is a dedicated and compassionate dentist practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Johanna S. Kalons has built a reputation for delivering exceptional dental care. With a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her expertise lies in Oral Appliance Therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea.

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