The vast majority of wisdom tooth extractions carry no long-term complications at all, and our highly-skilled dentists have undertaken intensive additional training specifically in wisdom tooth extraction, including complex or difficult cases, to ensure they are fully experienced and prepared to surgically remove any wisdom tooth without stress.
However, while they can be mitigated with skill and experience, as with any surgical procedure certain risks can never be 100% ruled out. Removing a wisdom tooth is still in the majority of cases a surgical method of tooth extraction, as an incision in the gum line must be made and a small amount of bone removed along with the tooth.
Rare complications of wisdom tooth extraction can include:
Dry socket; when the bone and nerve endings at the surgical extraction site become exposed due to the blood clot (which forms a protective barrier at any surgical wound site) not forming properly, or becoming dislodged during aftercare from the wound site on the gum (the ‘socket’.) Risk factors which can contribute to the chance of developing dry socket following any tooth extraction include: smoking, as well as other tobacco products and other suction consumables, including the use of straws following surgical dental work; having a recent or active tooth or gum infection in the area around the extracted tooth; taking certain oral contraceptives, as high estrogen levels have been linked to a disruption of normal healing processes such as clot formation; and a history of dry socket in the past.
Following your procedure, your dentist will go through the correct aftercare guidelines with you in detail, including advised hygiene methods to employ to decrease your risk of developing dry socket – you will also be advised of what to look out for following your treatment, as in most cases dry socket is extremely painful, and cannot be managed with OTC pain relief alone. Always contact Truly Dental for a follow-up if you are in a lot of pain, or notice any of the other signs of dry socket, following a tooth extraction, as your dentist will be able to see you very quickly to provide a prescription to get you out of pain, and a dressing to protect the socket until it has healed naturally.
Infection in the socket, often caused by bacteria or trapped food particles getting into the socket following the loss of the blood clot; apart from the exposure of your nerve endings if you experience dry socket, the pain of dry socket is often made worse by the unprotected ‘socket’ being vulnerable to trapping food, leading to further pain from a gum infection, and in some cases an unpleasant smell. It is very important to follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions exactly following your wisdom tooth extraction, particularly if your dentist has informed you of any trauma to the area or complications identified during your extraction, to minimise your chances of developing dry socket or a subsequent infection. And again, it is vital to contact the clinic if you have severe pain more than 2-3 days following a tooth extraction, as, while painful, a dry socket is not a serious complication provided you re-attend your dentist to ensure there is no infection taking place, and to be prescribed strong antibiotics if that is the case.
Nerve injury; a rare risk of wisdom tooth extraction, and dependent on the positioning of an impacted wisdom tooth. Because of the position of the wisdom teeth behind the molars, they are the closest teeth to touching a major facial nerve, sections of which run throughout your face along your lower jaw, and complex extractions, generally of impacted wisdom teeth, can sometimes bruise that nerve. Your dentist will be able to prepare you for this possibility following your pre-treatment X-Rays and once your procedure is complete, if there was a greater risk of nerve damage complications from the extraction of your wisdom tooth.
Bruising or damage to the nerve can cause numbness or a tingling sensation to the tongue, lower lips, chin, teeth and/or gums, and sometimes some pain. Nerve injury damage is usually temporary, lasting for a few weeks or months following a wisdom tooth extraction, although in severe cases of damage it can be permanent. A nerve injury of this type can interfere with day-to-day activities such as chewing or drinking, due to issues with altered sensation, however it will not cause any weakness or loss of mobility to the area.