Oral Surgery Complications: What You Should Know

Team Oral Surgery

Any time you undergo a surgical procedure, including oral surgery, there are risks of complications. Certain health conditions can increase your risk for complications. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk for complications, with some help from your oral surgeon.

Oral surgery is an umbrella term for several invasive procedures to correct problems in the teeth and jaws. Tooth extraction is the most common type of oral surgery, but other procedures include wisdom teeth removal and the placement of dental implants. Each can present the risk of complications.

Possible Complications from Any Oral Surgery


Infection after oral surgery is rare, but can still happen. People who have diabetes or have a compromised immune system are at greater risk for post-surgical infections. Signs of infection include fever, abnormal swelling in the affected area, pus, and a prolonged bad taste in your mouth. Oral surgeons can prescribe antibiotics to treat infections.


While oral surgeons go to great lengths to protect adjacent teeth or existing dental work during oral surgery, injury to teeth or nearby tissue can occur.

Dry socket

A dry socket is a painful complication that may develop after tooth extraction. Normally, a clot develops in the socket left by the pulled tooth; this clot protects the nerve and bone tissue exposed by the tooth extraction until it dissolves naturally about a week to 10 days following tooth extraction. In dry socket, the clot dislodges prematurely, leaving the nerve more vulnerable and slowing down the healing process.


Oral surgery can irritate the nerves situated near the surgical site. Irritating these nerves can cause diminished or total loss of feeling in areas served by the nerve, such as the lip, tongue, cheek, chin, teeth, or gums. While any numbness that does develop usually subsides in 24 hours or less, permanent numbness may occur.

Sinus complications

Sinus cavities are empty spaces situated at the front of your forehead and near your eyes and nose. Drainage from the sinuses keeps bacteria out of your nose. The lowermost sinuses are located very near the roots of some upper teeth; surgery to these teeth may cause the tooth roots to penetrate into the sinus cavity.

Root fragments

Tooth roots can be long or fragile, which makes them prone to breakage during surgery. Oral surgeons can usually remove any broken bits, but may need to leave some in place if the fragments are too close to a nerve or sinus, or if removing the fragment would jeopardize the adjacent teeth.

Jaw fracture

Removal of wisdom teeth can potentially weaken the jawbone, especially if the bone is already thin or if the wisdom teeth are stuck under the gum or only partially able to break through the gum. Weakening the jawbone may increase the risk that the bone will break.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) holds your jaw onto your skull. Wisdom teeth removal can cause inflammation and pain in the TMJ, particularly if you have a pre-existing problem with your TMJ.

For more information on complications associated with oral surgery, consult with your oral surgeon. You may be able to take steps to reduce your risk for complications after you have oral surgery. Call 505-821-2111 today or request an appointment. We look forward to helping maintain your oral health.