In the early 20s or mid-20s, back teeth or molars come which is usually called as wisdom tooth. Altogether there are four, two in upper and two in the lower jaw. Some people have all four of them whereas some have not even one. Wisdom tooth is of no use as they don’t help in chewing instead they cause pain in jaws.
They either appear at an angle or come straight. In most cases, there is not sufficient space for them to appear and thus they don’t come up properly, it is called an impaction. Cleaning of these teeth is difficult, and thus they are more prone towards infection. Food and bacteria stuck between them and the tooth nearby them leading to gum infections or tooth decay.
Wisdom tooth infection in the upper jaws can cause ulcers and chewing problems as they are often tilted sideways. They also affect other teeth by pushing them and can affect the person’s oral health. It can also cause pain in jaws, swelling and sinus problems if the wisdom tooth is infected.
A person suffering from infection will experience extreme pain. Immediate treatment is necessary to avoid the spread of infection. If the tooth is impacted, then a person is more likely to have the infection. So, the first thing is to know the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth.
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth:
Any person having impacted teeth can notice few symptoms that if ignored can lead to worsening conditions.
- Throbbing pain
A person will experience pain around the wisdom teeth, and it will increase as the condition becomes worse. Pain is usually experienced in the back of jaws.
- Serious gum issues
Gums will become swollen and on applying little pressure blood will occur. Swollen gums will make brushing and floss painful and difficult.
- Swollen Jaw
As wisdom tooth appears from beneath the jawline hence swelling of a jaw is natural. It causes immense pain and person will find difficulty in opening and closing of the mouth.
It can also cause headaches. A temporomandibular joint that connects skull and jaw get affected by the impacted wisdom tooth. The person can also experience pain in head and face.
- Swollen glands in neck and shoulder
Swollen glands in neck and shoulder are also the common symptoms of impacted wisdom tooth.
These symptoms can cause serious complications and worsen the condition. However, infection in this area is the major cause of concern.
Causes of wisdom tooth infection:
Pericoronitis or infection around wisdom teeth is the condition that causes inflammation in a nearby tissue of the tooth. It is caused when the tooth does not come up properly, and the place from where the tooth erupts partially gets covered by a flap of gum. Infection will not heal until the covered area is removed, a tooth is removed or until it comes completely. Types of infection
- Gum disease
An already infected person with gum disease is more likely to have wisdom teeth infections. It makes the situation complicated and needs to be treated early.
- Within the teeth
A common infection is one that affects the teeth. It is a very painful situation and needs to be carefully dealt.
- An abscess infection
Another type of infection is related to bone commonly called as an abscess. If left untreated then it may cause additional issues that can raise the need for tooth extraction.
Symptoms of pericoronitis:
Common symptoms include swelling in gum tissue, difficulty in chewing or biting, bad smell or taste, pus discharge from the gums around the affected area. Some serious symptoms include muscle spasms, swelling of the face area, and swollen lymph nodes.
Diagnosis of wisdom tooth infection
A person suffering from pericoronitis should go to the dentist, and the condition will be diagnosed during clinical examination. A dentist will examine the inflamed gum tissue around the impacted wisdom tooth. If dentist gets the above symptoms like red gums, swollen jaws or pus then the person will have to undergo the treatment.
The issue can be resolved in one week, but if the condition is serious, then it will take longer time. At home, the person can try warm salt water rinses. But it is not assured that the condition will heal completely, and it can return. It will in the case when the bacteria and food will likely to stuck in the tooth or wisdom tooth doesn’t come up completely.
The condition can be prevented by regularly brushing around the wisdom tooth. It will help in making sure that bacteria and food don’t build up. If no prevention techniques work then either wisdom tooth or flap of gum tissue need to be removed.
This condition can be trickiest to treat. It is so because flap of gum tissues don’t go until the tooth is removed or emerges naturally. However, numerous ways are there to treat the infection. But if the tooth appears without any problems then the dentist may not perform any surgery and will keep a watch over time.
- Conservative approach: this approach is used when a patient experience pain due to infection in wisdom teeth. Dental profession will recommend treatments such as mouthwashes, antibiotics, use counter-pain relievers or saltwater rinses. Surgery is not always required in every case. An Ice pack, saltwater rinses, relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen can reduce pain and swelling to some extents. Such methods are very effective for those who cannot undergo surgeries because of the bleeding disorders or other health problems. But in other situations where the condition of the patient gets worse, surgery is essential.
- Surgical approach: surgery is common in case of infection to avoid complications. Experts say that in 85 percent of cases wisdom teeth should be extracted to avoid the future complications. Therefore, surgery is recommended by many dental professionals.
A dentist will also explain the ways to clean the affected area and suggest the necessary actions to be taken before and after surgery.
When to call professionals?
It is good to visit dentists as soon as the symptoms of infection are discovered. However, it is recommended to visit a dentist twice a year once the early signs of wisdom teeth appear. Regular checkups can determine the oral health condition and prevent them to become worse.
Pericoronitis, however, not causes effects for the longer duration. The condition doesn’t return if a tooth is extracted or erupted fully. In case of extraction, patient associated with these smaller risks can cause complications.
Complications associated with the wisdom teeth removal:
Dry socket – if the common complications that occur in the removal of wisdom tooth. The condition occurs on the failure of development of blood clot in the tooth socket. It may occur after few days of surgery. To avoid the risk of dry socket, one must necessarily follow the instructions of a dentist.
Nerve injury – injury to trigeminal nerve can be possible complications that may occur during the process. It can cause numbness in tongue, chin, gums; tingling sensation in the lower lip, etc. damage can be temporary or permanent depending on the injury of nerve. It can make the daily activities difficult and painful. Therefore, before the extraction procedure begins dentist will try to minimize the complication and guide the patient about it.
In few cases, complications can be very serious and led to a condition called Ludwig’s angina. It is a life-threatening condition. Another condition occurs when the infection spread to the bloodstream. Dental surgeon will address the complications and try to avoid them as soon as possible.
However, prevention is possible with the oral hygiene, preemptive care, and regular dental visits. A dentist will monitor the condition and determine whether there is need of early removal of the wisdom tooth or not. If the tooth is extracted before an eruption, then prevention of pericoronitis is possible.
Tips to follow after surgery:
Plan ahead: plan for recovery before surgery. Oral surgeon or dentist will tell what to do after surgery. A dentist will give Guidelines related to the eating habits.
Watch the eating habits: liquids diets are often suggested to the patients. Gradually the patients can move to solid foods that are soft to chew like pudding. Avoid spicy foods.
Rest: to recover completely follow all the instructions and don’t rush to the normal life quickly. Rest is very essential. No exercise for a day or more and rest to the fullest for complete and early recovery from surgery.
Open mouth: patient will feel stiffness in opening mouth after surgery. They may also experience little pain doing that but try to open mouth otherwise stiffness will become permanent. Slowly and gradually do it and try it every day.
Rinse mouth: make a rinse of warm water and salt. Do it every day especially after eating; it will reduce pain and swelling in jaws.
Control was bleeding: bleeding will occur after surgery, bite a tea bag to prevent bleeding and reduce pain.
Listen to the surgeon: apart from these tips, follow the instructions of a surgeon. Their suggestions will help in quick recovery.
Wisdom teeth infection can thus be prevented, cured and diagnosed. One should follow all the tips, prevention methods and immediately contact to the dentist in case of pain in jaws. Don’t take the condition too lightly as it may lead to serious health issue later on.