Do you have a severe toothache at the back of your mouth or suffer from chronic bad breath? You may have a wisdom tooth abscess. If you think you have an abscess, it is critical to seek immediate help from a dentist. If left untreated, a wisdom tooth abscess can adversely impact your oral health, leading to tooth loss, jawbone deterioration, and sepsis in severe cases.
What is a Wisdom Tooth Abscess?
A wisdom tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that develops in the tooth’s pulp chamber or on the exterior of the tooth root. A wisdom tooth abscess occurs due to abnormal wisdom tooth development and impaction.
Your wisdom teeth are the third and final molars to develop at the end of your dental arch. They are a vestigial body part, and some people may only get one or two or even none at all. Because the human jawbone has decreased in size, in some people, wisdom teeth fail to erupt correctly through the gum line, causing them to become impacted.
Impacted teeth may grow horizontally, at an angle, or vertically against the adjacent tooth. This can cause severe pain and inflammation and can also contribute to infection.
Because impacted wisdom teeth do not fully erupt, food particles and bacteria accumulate under the gum line or inside a gum flap. It is challenging to reach these areas with a toothbrush or floss, leading to decay or infection that can cause a tooth abscess. When this happens, wisdom tooth extractions are often necessary.
Symptoms of a Wisdom Tooth Abscess
A wisdom tooth abscess can be potentially life-threatening, so it is critical to understand the symptoms so you can get wisdom teeth surgery to protect your oral health. Some common symptoms of a wisdom tooth abscess include:
- Swelling in the cheek, jaw, or neck
- A persistent, dull toothache
- Discomfort when chewing
- Throbbing at the back of the jaw
- Bad breath
- A foul taste in your mouth
If you develop excessive swelling or fever that affects your breathing or swallowing, your oral health issues are classified as a dental emergency. Contact your dentist immediately for urgent wisdom teeth surgery.
Diagnosing a Wisdom Tooth Abscess
Early treatment is essential to prevent complications like sepsis. Visit Toothsome for a consultation to determine a treatment plan for your tooth abscess.
During the consultation, your dentist manually examines the tooth and applies pressure to the crown to check for sensitivity. They may recommend dental X-rays to identify the abscess and whether it has spread to any surrounding areas. They may also prescribe a CT scan to check whether the infection has affected the neck.
Following a thorough examination, your dentist provides you with a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include wisdom tooth surgery and wisdom tooth extractions.
Treating a Wisdom Tooth Abscess
Depending on the severity and location of the abscess, there are several treatment options available to restore your oral health.
- Cleaning and antibiotics
Before wisdom tooth surgery, your dentist cleans the wisdom tooth and surrounding gums. They may recommend an antiseptic mouthwash and a course of antibiotics to eliminate the bacterial infection.
- Draining the abscess
Your dentist drains the pus from the abscess to remove the infection, then administers a local anaesthetic before surgically exposing the tooth to access the root. Your dentist incises the abscess, allowing the pus to drain before suctioning it away and rinsing it with a saline solution.
If the abscess is large, you may need a small rubber drain placed to keep the incision open and allow for further drainage.
- Wisdom tooth surgery
In most cases, you need wisdom tooth extractions to remove wisdom teeth affected by abscesses. Wisdom tooth surgery can be performed under local or general anaesthetic or sedation.
Dr Willis and Dr Chou have admitting rights at several local accredited hospitals and private clinics around Sydney. This ensures that a Specialist Anaesthetist carefully monitors you throughout your wisdom tooth surgery. Twilight sedation is also available at the Chatswood and Baulkham Hills clinics.
Your dental surgeon removes the gum tissue and bone during complex wisdom tooth extractions to expose the affected tooth. They may need to section the tooth for easier removal. After the tooth has been extracted, your dentist cleans the socket, and if the abscess is present in the gum tissue, they drain the abscess. The socket is then sutured with dissolvable stitches.
Recovery After Wisdom Tooth Surgery
It is important to follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions following wisdom tooth extractions. Irritating the socket or dislodging the blood clot can cause additional infections or result in a painful secondary condition called dry socket.
- Take your antibiotics at the same time every day as prescribed by your dentist and ensure you complete the entire course to prevent the infection from recurring.
- To avoid irritating the surgical site, eat a soft food diet, including smoothies, lukewarm blended soups or broths, and mashed vegetables.
- Rest with your head elevated on a pillow and avoid strenuous activity that involves bending or lifting heavy objects.
- Take OTC medications and use ice packs to alleviate discomfort.
Protect Your Oral Health
If you experience symptoms of a wisdom tooth abscess, contact Toothsome at one of our two Sydney clinics or via our online form. Our experienced dental team can make an assessment and create a personalised treatment plan to restore your oral health.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Wisdom Teeth Infection: What to Do.
What to know about a wisdom tooth infection.
Tooth abscess: Symptoms and causes.
Tooth abscess: Diagnosis and treatment.
Removing wisdom teeth.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?