Hello. I thought I’d start off this blog by writing a little about things that occasionally happen after an extraction.
Infections are marked by fever, pain, swelling, and redness. They generally occur a few days after a procedure, requiring time to evolve. However, there are also late infections that occur 3-4 weeks after an extraction.
In the healthy patient who had an extraction, infection is rare. With wisdom teeth, sometimes a bit of food debris gets stuck under the gums and develops into a small abscess. The patient experiences tenderness over the area, a bad taste, persistent swelling, and malaise. A small abscess like this is generally treated by numbing the area, opening up the surgical site, and irrigating it thoroughly with sterile saline. Typically this clears the source of the infection and the abscess resolves. Antibiotics are administered.
Receiving post operative antibiotics does not mean you will not get an infection. In fact the rate of infection after wisdom tooth extraction is similar between patients who receive antibiotics and those who do not.
A dry socket (Alveolar Osteitis) is a condition where the blood clot disappears before it can turn into early stages of bone formation. The bony walls of the socket are exposed to air and cold, which are exquisitely sensitive. As with an infection, dry socket often evolves around 3 days after an extraction, and most commonly occurs in lower wisdom tooth extractions. Smoking, birth control pills, and hygiene are risk factors for dry socket.
You may have a dry socket if you experience more pain, of a different quality, a few days after the extraction. Come back in to the office. Do not wait for your post op appointment. The treatment of a dry socket is simple, consisting of packing the socket with a menthol/eucalyptus oil gauze that eliminates the pain immediately. This packing may need to be changed every other day until the gum tissue grows down and lines the socket.
Well, that’s all for tonight.
– Dr. Solomon Poyourow