What Are the Signs of Infection After Tooth Extraction
When you have an issue with your teeth and require a tooth extraction, it’s important to know what will happen during the procedure and what you need to be wary of afterwards, so you can reduce the risk of any complications following the procedure. Your teeth may be small, but the procedure can be difficult, depending on what has happened to your tooth to need an extraction.
Infections are a risk following any surgery so it’s important to keep the area clean and free of bacteria, but that can be hard to do when the open wound is in your mouth. Let’s look at the signs of an infection following a tooth extraction and what to do if it happens.
When to Have a Tooth Extraction
There are several reasons to have a tooth extraction. Having toothache doesn’t always mean you need your tooth removed, however, if you have prolonged toothache that doesn’t go away after taking painkillers, you should see your dentist as soon as possible so they can determine the necessary course of action.
Some reasons for needing a tooth extraction are:
- A cracked or broken tooth
- A tooth infection (dental abscess)
- Severe tooth decay
- Gum disease
- An impacted tooth such as a wisdom tooth
In each of these cases, a dentist will take a look in your mouth, perform an x-ray to see your teeth more clearly, and decide what treatment is necessary. A tooth extraction is a last resort, however, it can be the best option for severely damaged teeth.
Having an Emergency Tooth Extraction
If you’re in overwhelming pain with your tooth, you should call an emergency dentist to make an appointment as soon as possible. You can get emergency dental appointments on the same day, even if it’s outside of normal working hours, so if you’ve broken your tooth badly or are in great pain, you can see someone straight away.
Toothache can be caused by a number of things and doesn’t always warrant a tooth extraction, however, if the dentist deems it necessary to have your tooth extracted, they can do it right away or schedule you in for an appointment as soon as possible.
You shouldn’t go to a hospital or A&E for dental problems unless your life is in danger, as they cannot help you. Only go to A&E with a dental issue if your throat, mouth or eye are swelling and making it difficult to breathe, speak or swallow, or you’re bleeding heavily. GPs are also unequipped to treat dental issues and will tell you to see a dentist instead.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
Once your tooth has been extracted, you’ll need to take good care of the wound in your gums to prevent infection, avoid disturbing any stitches and maintain the blood clot to help the wound heal.
To look after the tooth extraction site, after the procedure, you’re recommended to:
- Avoid spitting
- Eat soft, warm foods
- Don’t drink with a straw
- Drink clear water
- Avoid hot drinks
- Avoid alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Take painkillers
The recommended length of time you should avoid each of these changes slightly according to the dentist, however, it can take around 7 days for your gum to heal after a tooth extraction so you should be able to carry on your life as normal after one week. However, if you experience any pain, leaking or other issues with the socket, you should see your dentist as soon as possible and follow the aftercare advice for longer.
What’s a Dry Socket?
A dry socket is the term used when a blood clot doesn’t form or is removed from the extraction site in your gum. A blood clot is necessary to protect the open wound from bacteria that may cause an infection, as well as help the nerves and tissue regrow following the procedure. Without the blood clot, the wound won’t close as quickly, leaving the nerve ends and bone exposed, causing great pain.
With a dry socket, you may also develop a bone infection as bacteria enter the socket and inflame the jawbone. This can be treated with antibiotics, however in more serious cases, when left untreated, a bone graft may be necessary.
To avoid such complications, you should keep to your aftercare instructions and be aware when an infection is beginning to develop.
What Are the Signs of Infection After Tooth Extraction?
When you’ve had a tooth removed, you can expect some swelling of the area, pain and throbbing from the increased blood flow and some bruising on the outside of your cheek. So if this is your first dental procedure, you may find it difficult to differentiate an infection from the normal post-tooth extraction symptoms. However, while some symptoms are normal to experience after your tooth is extracted, others are clear signs of an infection, including:
- Yellow or white liquid seeping from the wound
- A high temperature (fever)
- Tenderness in the gums, jaws and neck
- Continued bleeding
- Bad breath
After your tooth extraction, you should check your blood clot periodically with a torch and a mirror to ensure it’s in place and healthy. It’s a red, jelly-like blob covering the gum where your tooth was removed, however, some white parts are normal as your body will be sending white blood cells to kill any bacteria trying to enter the socket. If there is white or yellow liquid seeping from the wound, however, this is a sign that the area is infected and you should see your dentist immediately to prevent the infection from spreading.
Although you’re recommended to take painkillers for at least a few days following your tooth extraction, the pain should gradually subside to show you the wound is healing. However, if your pain is increasing or doesn’t seem to be getting better, you should check your wound for signs of an infection and call your dentist.
The sooner you notice the symptoms of an infection, the higher the chance of your dentist being able to treat it and prevent it from spreading into your jaw and causing more serious complications.
What to Do if You Have a Tooth Infection
If you think you have a tooth infection following a tooth extraction, call your dentist for an appointment. You should be seen quickly to ensure the infection doesn’t spread, but as the NHS has very few appointment times, you may benefit from seeing a private dentist instead, to get a more timely appointment. You will pay more, but you’ll receive expert care and have access to top-of-the-range equipment.
Your dentist may treat your tooth infection with antibiotics, or perform a root canal if necessary. After any procedure, including the tooth extraction itself and any check-up following complications, it’s imperative that you keep your mouth as clean as possible.
Your dentist may give you antibiotics after the procedure to help prevent an infection, but you should also maintain a good oral hygiene routine, brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily to prevent bacteria sticking between your teeth, and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash or saltwater as necessary. Be careful immediately after your tooth extraction as you shouldn’t spit for 24 hours as this may remove the blood clot and cause a dry socket. However, after one day has passed, you should keep your mouth bacteria-free by brushing your teeth and gently rinsing your mouth.
Having regular check-ups to keep your teeth in good condition and spot any problems before they become emergencies is also an essential part of a good oral hygiene routine. This can be hard on the NHS, especially if you’re not already registered, so it’s worth it to register with a private dentist in many cases.
Didsbury Dental Practice – Manchester’s Top Private Dental Practice
If you need a routine appointment or to see a dentist in an emergency in the Manchester area, give Didsbury Dental Practice a call! Open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, we have expert dental practitioners on hand at all hours to help you with your dental woes.