Getting wisdom teeth is uncomfortable in even the best of circumstances, but when they become infected, discomfort quickly turns into throbbing pain. The location of wisdom teeth in the back of the mouth makes them susceptible to infection, as does the fact that they often come in partially impacted—food easily gets stuck between the tooth and soft tissues and it’s difficult to brush or floss away. If you think your wisdom teeth might be infected, here are the signs to watch out for.
As with any other infection, a fever is a common sign that your wisdom tooth is infected. Your temperature is elevated because your body is fighting the infection; you may experience either a fever or chills. A fever alone doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infected tooth, but if it’s accompanied by any of the other symptoms below, infection is likely.
Naturally, your gums are always a bit sore when your wisdom teeth are erupting. The difference between normal discomfort and an infection is that when your wisdom teeth are coming in as they should, you’ll experience tenderness, while an infection produces throbbing, intense pain, particularly when you bite down. The area is often so painful that you cannot brush or floss.
The pain from your infected wisdom tooth may extend to your jaw, making it difficult to open your mouth. Muscle spasms in the jaw are also possible.
Swelling and Redness
The gum tissue around your infected tooth will be swollen and red; it may even bleed. If the infection is left untreated, the inflammation can spread to the jaw, throughout the face, and even to your lymph nodes. In addition to the swelling, these areas will be tender to the touch.
With the swelling and pain caused by your infected wisdom tooth, you’re likely to find eating difficult. Biting and chewing puts pressure on the tooth, which intensifies the pain; you may also feel queasy and have a loss of appetite due to the infection.
Foul Odor and Taste
The tissue surrounding an infected tooth can release pus into the mouth, which causes a foul taste and bad breath. This, too, can make you lose your appetite. A temporary remedy for this symptom is to rinse your mouth with warm salt water when needed, but this is a clear sign that you need to see an oral surgeon for an evaluation.
How to Treat a Wisdom Tooth Infection
When a wisdom tooth is infected, it’s important to get prompt treatment, as infection can spread to other parts of the body. During your appointment, we will clean the area surrounding the tooth to clear away food debris and bacteria, then prescribe a course of oral antibiotics.
Once the infection has resolved, you can return to our office to have your wisdom tooth extracted.