Dealing with a wisdom tooth infection can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. These third molars, which typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25, often cause problems due to their late arrival and limited space in the mouth. When a wisdom tooth becomes infected, it can lead to swelling, pain, and even complications like abscesses.
However, timely and appropriate treatment can help alleviate the discomfort and prevent further dental issues. In this article, we will provide you with a holistic insight into the various treatment options available for wisdom tooth infections, explaining them in the best ways possible to help you understand your options better.
What is a Wisdom Tooth Infection?
A wisdom tooth infection is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding a wisdom tooth. It is caused by bacteria that enter the area around the tooth, usually through a small opening in the gum.
What Are The Causes of a Wisdom Tooth Infection?
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of developing a wisdom tooth infection. These include:
1. Impacted wisdom teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that are unable to fully erupt through the gum. This can create a pocket where food and bacteria can get trapped, leading to infection.
2. Crowding of the teeth: If there is not enough space in the mouth for all of the teeth to erupt properly, it can increase the risk of impaction and infection.
3. Gum disease: Gum disease can damage the gums and make them more susceptible to infection.
4. Poor oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene can also increase the risk of infection by allowing bacteria to build up in the mouth.
Wisdom Tooth Infection Symptoms
a) Pain and Swelling: The most common symptom of a wisdom tooth infection is persistent pain and swelling in the affected area. The pain may be dull or sharp and can radiate to nearby areas of the face and jaw.
b) Redness and Tenderness: The gums around the infected wisdom tooth may appear red, swollen, and tender to the touch.
c) Bad Breath and Unpleasant Taste: A wisdom tooth infection can cause foul breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth due to the accumulation of bacteria and pus.
d) Difficulty Opening the Mouth: In some cases, the infection and swelling can lead to difficulty in fully opening the mouth and discomfort while chewing or speaking.
Early Stage Wisdom Tooth Infection
When a wisdom tooth erupts partially or doesn’t have enough space to fully emerge, it can create an ideal environment for bacterial growth and infection. The early stage of a wisdom tooth infection is characterized by inflammation and localized infection around the affected tooth. Recognizing the symptoms can help you seek treatment before the infection progresses.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Infection Symptoms
Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure to alleviate pain and prevent complications. However, there is a possibility of infection after the extraction. Look out for these symptoms:
a) Increasing Pain: While some discomfort is expected after the extraction if the pain intensifies instead of improving, it may indicate an infection.
b) Swelling and Redness: Persistent swelling and redness around the extraction site can be signs of an infection.
c) Fever and Malaise: Systemic symptoms like fever, fatigue, and overall malaise may indicate an infection spreading beyond the extraction site.
d) Pus or Drainage: The presence of pus or discharge from the extraction site may suggest an infection and requires immediate attention.
Wisdom Teeth Infection After Removal
Even after the extraction of a problematic wisdom tooth, there is a possibility of infection in the surrounding tissues. This is known as a post-extraction infection. Symptoms may include:
a) Increased Pain: If the pain worsens instead of subsiding after the extraction, it could be a sign of infection.
b) Swelling and Redness: Swelling and redness that persist or increase around the extraction site may indicate an infection.
c) Delayed Healing: If the extraction site does not show signs of healing within the expected timeframe, it may be due to an infection.
d) Foul Odor or Taste: The presence of an unpleasant odor or taste in the mouth can be indicative of an infection.
Impacted Wisdom Tooth Infection
When a wisdom tooth fails to erupt fully or grows at an angle, it is considered impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are more prone to infection due to difficulty in cleaning and increased bacterial buildup. Symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth infection may include:
a) Intense Pain: Impacted wisdom tooth infections often cause severe, throbbing pain that radiates to the ear, jaw, and neck.
b) Swelling and Jaw Stiffness: Swelling in the jaw and difficulty in opening the mouth fully can occur due to an impacted wisdom tooth infection.
c) Sinus Problems: An infected impacted wisdom tooth in the upper jaw can cause sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.
d) Headaches and Earaches: Chronic headaches and earaches can be associated with an impacted wisdom tooth infection.
Wisdom Tooth Infection Treatment at Home
If you’re experiencing mild pain or discomfort from a wisdom tooth infection, there are a few home remedies you can try before seeking professional treatment. These remedies can provide temporary relief while you wait for your dental appointment. Examples include:
a) Saltwater Rinse: Mix half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Gently swish this solution in your mouth for about 30 seconds, focusing on the affected area. This rinse can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
b) Cold Compress: Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the outside of your cheek near the infected area can help numb the pain and reduce swelling.
c) Clove Oil: Clove oil has natural analgesic and antibacterial properties that can help reduce pain and fight infection. Soak a cotton ball in clove oil and gently apply it to the affected area for a few minutes. Repeat as needed, but be cautious not to apply too much as it may cause a burning sensation.
d) Garlic: Garlic contains allicin, a compound known for its antimicrobial properties. Crush a garlic clove and mix it with a pinch of salt. Apply the mixture directly to the infected area and leave it for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water. Repeat a few times a day.
e) Tea Tree Oil Rinse: Tea tree oil possesses antibacterial properties that can help alleviate the symptoms of a wisdom tooth infection. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a glass of warm water and use it as a mouth rinse. Gargle for about 30 seconds, focusing on the infected area, and then spit it out. Avoid swallowing the mixture.
f) Peppermint Tea: Peppermint tea has soothing properties and can provide relief from pain and inflammation. Steep a peppermint tea bag in hot water for a few minutes. Allow it to cool down, and then place the tea bag on the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
g) Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage the pain associated with a wisdom tooth infection. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or if you’re unsure about the appropriate dosage.
Professional Treatment Options
If the infection persists or worsens, it’s crucial to visit a dentist or oral surgeon for a proper evaluation and treatment. Here are some common professional treatment options for wisdom tooth infections:
a) Antibiotics: Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to combat the infection. These medications help eliminate bacteria and prevent the spread of the infection.
Commonly prescribed antibiotics for dental infections include:
Penicillin: Penicillin and its derivatives, such as amoxicillin, are frequently used to treat dental infections. They are effective against many types of bacteria commonly found in the oral cavity.
Clindamycin: Clindamycin is an alternative antibiotic for individuals allergic to penicillin or for infections caused by resistant bacteria. It has a broader spectrum of activity and can be effective against more severe infections.
Metronidazole: Metronidazole is often used in combination with other antibiotics for infections caused by specific anaerobic bacteria. It may be prescribed if the infection involves an abscess or if there are signs of a more severe infection.
b) Drainage of Abscess: In some cases, an abscess (a pocket of pus) may develop around the infected tooth. Your dentist might need to drain the abscess to provide relief and promote healing. This procedure involves making a small incision and draining the accumulated pus.
c) Root Canal Treatment: If the infection has reached the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary. During this procedure, the dentist removes the infected pulp, cleans the canal, and seals it. A dental crown may be placed to protect the treated tooth.
d) Wisdom Tooth Extraction: If the infection is severe, recurring, or if there isn’t enough space for the wisdom tooth to emerge properly, extraction may be the best course of action. Your dentist or oral surgeon will carefully remove the affected tooth under local anesthesia to ensure a comfortable experience.
Aftercare and Prevention
Once the infection has been treated, proper aftercare is crucial for a smooth recovery and to prevent future problems. Follow these guidelines:
a) Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and use an antibacterial mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and prevent infections.
b) Eat Soft Foods: Stick to soft and easily chewable foods for a few days after treatment to avoid putting excessive pressure on the healing area.
c) Take Medications as Prescribed: If your dentist prescribes painkillers or antibiotics, make sure to take them as directed.
d) Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule regular dental check-ups to ensure your oral health is maintained, and potential issues can be identified and treated promptly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wisdom Tooth Infection
Q: How do you get rid of an infected wisdom tooth?
A: There are two main ways to get rid of an infected wisdom tooth:
- Treatment with antibiotics: Antibiotics can help to kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. This will usually clear up the infection within a few days.
- Wisdom tooth removal: If the infection is severe or if the tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. This is a surgical procedure that is usually performed by a dentist or oral surgeon.
Q: Can wisdom tooth infection go on its own?
A: In some cases, a wisdom tooth infection may go away on its own. However, this is not always the case. If the infection is severe or if it is not treated, it can spread to other parts of the mouth and cause more serious problems.
Q: What is the best medicine for infected wisdom tooth?
A: The best medicine for an infected wisdom tooth will depend on the severity of the infection. In most cases, antibiotics will be prescribed to help to kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. In some cases, pain medication may also be prescribed.
Q: How do I know if my wisdom tooth infection is serious?
A: Severe pain, swelling, fever, and redness around the wisdom tooth are some of the ways you can know your wisdom tooth infection is serious.