Wisdom Teeth Problems & Complications

What are potential wisdom teeth problems which occur after surgery?

Wisdom teeth problems complications
Wisdom surgery has pain and swelling anywhere from 2-3 days up to a week

Although rare, serious complications may occur after wisdom teeth removal surgery. Most common wisdom teeth problems are pain and swelling along with difficulty eating or swallowing. The more difficult and complex your tooth removal, the more problems you’ll face after surgery. Here are some common wisdom teeth problems you should be on the lookout for:

Pain and swelling following your surgery

Having pain and swelling is the most common of wisdom teeth problems following surgery. Swelling makes it harder for you to eat or breath over the next few days. You will also experience varying degrees of pain afterwards. Easier extractions cause 2 to 3 days of pain while more complicated ones typically cause pain which lasts for about a week or so. Although rare, if you run into more serious complications you could be in pain for several weeks or longer.

“Dry socket” or poor healing
Dry Socket
Avoid spitting, blowing or any suction action or you’ll get a dry socket

Dry socket refers to poor healing which occurs following tooth removal. Once a tooth has been removed there’s an extraction socket, a hole, which is left behind. This socket (hole) needs to fill up with a blood clot in order to properly heal. Whenever the extraction socket fails to properly fill up with blood clot and regenerative tissue this is referred to as a dry socket.

Dry socket is one of the most common complications following wisdom teeth removal, particularly the lower wisdoms. Unfortunately, it’s also a very painful condition with no real effective treatment. Dry socket typically causes about two to three weeks of dull, aching pain before it resolves on its own. Since there is no effective treatment you must simply allow enough time for the healing to occur.

In order to avoid developing a dry socket you must not spit, smoke or do anything that dislodges the blood clot after your surgery. Follow these instructions for the first one to two days after wisdom surgery. Note that heavy smokers are at much higher risks of developing dry socket, even if they actually stop smoking after surgery. This is because with heavy smokers the effects of nicotine, such as poor blood flow, takes more than one to two days to reverse itself.

Nerve damage when removing lower wisdom teeth

Nerve damage is typically associated with removal of lower wisdom teeth since these teeth are adjacent to the Inferior Alveolar (IA) nerve. If you sustain nerve damage then you will constantly feel a tingling sensation around the tooth removal site. Fortunately nerve damage is usually temporary and heals on its own within a few weeks or months. However, in rare occasions nerve damage could end up being permanent, so followup with your dentist is crucial in case you feel any numbness after surgery.

If nerve damage does not resolve on its own after several weeks you should go to your dentist for further evaluation. You may be required to see a neurologist or other specialists for nerve regeneration treatment. Keep in mind that repairing nerve damage is a time sensitive issue which must be performed within the first few months. Should you neglect your nerve damage, repairing it will no longer be an option once enough time has elapsed and the lingering numbness may last indefinitely.

Sinus damage when removing upper wisdom teeth

Sinus tear or perforation is specifically associated with upper wisdom teeth removal which sit right against the sinus membrane. If you develop sinus tear you will notice a connection between your nostrils and mouth. As a result you will feel stuffy and congested. Fortunately, smaller sinus tears usually heal on their own within several weeks without any additional treatment. It’s best to avoid any blowing or suction action during this time period to allow for proper healing to occur. However, more extensive damages may require a subsequent surgery to repair your torn sinus membrane.

Uncontrolled bleeding

Your dentist should make sure that your bleeding level is under control before dismissing you. Bleeding a little following surgery is normal and it should stop once you apply enough pressure to the site.

On the other hand if you’re continuously gushing blood then this is a problem. Particularly if you have high blood pressure, underlying bleeding disorders or are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin. If you experience uncontrolled bleeding which concerns you then get a hold of your dentist right away or visit an emergency room for treatment.

Limited jaw opening and other TMJ problems
Wisdom teeth Trismus
Expect several weeks or months of limited jaw opening (Trismus)

It is very common to experience limited jaw opening following wisdom tooth surgery. This condition is referred to as trismus. Keep in mind that actual jaw fracture can also occur during wisdom removal but is extremely rare.

Trismus is typically temporary and lasts for several weeks or months. Try to give your jaw plenty of rest, avoid chewing gum or hard objects, apply an ice packs to reduce swelling and stick with a soft diet for several days following your surgery. Also try doing TMJ exercises to help loosen your jaw muscles if you like. If trismus persists for over a month or actually worsens then consult your dentist for more advanced TMJ treatment.

While wisdom teeth problems and complications may sound scary, keep in mind that the more serious complications are extremely rare. Jaw fractures almost never occur, while permanent nerve damage or serious sinus tears occur in less than 1% of the cases. Find an experienced dentist or oral surgeon who has performed numerous wisdom teeth operations and you shouldn’t have to be too concerned.

How much pain will I experience after removing my wisdom teeth?

The level of pain you will experience after wisdom surgery depends on difficulty of the surgery itself more than anything else. The more difficult and complicated the surgery, the more painful and prolonged your expected recovery time. Generally speaking, wisdom teeth which come out easily within just a few minutes heal much better than those that take 30 minutes or longer to remove. Additionally, lower wisdom teeth are almost always harder to remove so they cause more pain and swelling than upper ones do.

Easier wisdom teeth removals are typically followed by 2 to 3 days of serious pain and swelling. More difficult surgeries on the other hand cause pain and discomfort which lasts for one week, if not longer. Occasionally, full recovery might take several months, such as when dealing with nerve damage or sinus tears. Should you do end up running into serious wisdom teeth problems and issues, then be prepared to see your dentist plenty over the next few months. This is important as your dentist needs to continue to monitor your recover from surgery.

NEXT >> What are wisdom teeth (third molars)?

When do I need to remove my wisdom teeth?

Does it hurt to have my wisdom teeth removed?

When do I get to keep my wisdom teeth?

What are the steps involved in wisdom teeth removal surgery?

What are the instructions I need to follow after removing my wisdom teeth?

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