People wearing white gloves


Risks and Complications of Wisdom Tooth Removal

Having wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure. It’s needed when these teeth cause pain or dental problems. This article will guide you through the risks and how to manage them after surgery.

Key Takeaways

  • Wisdom tooth extraction can lead to risks such as dry socket, infection, and damage to nearby teeth or nerves.
  • Recovery involves managing pain with medications like ibuprofen, eating soft foods, and using ice packs for swelling.
  • To avoid dry socket, don’t use straws or smoke after surgery, eat soft foods, and gently rinse with salty water.
  • If you have trouble swallowing or breathing, fever, severe pain that gets worse after two to three days, contact your dentist right away.
  • Leaving an impacted wisdom tooth can cause more problems like pain, infection around the gums (inflammatory gum disease), decay of surrounding teeth due to trapped food particles causing discomfort and complications.

Understanding Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that often appear in late teens or early adulthood. They sit at the back of your mouth and can cause problems if there isn’t enough space for them to grow properly.

Many people have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of their mouth.

These teeth can become impacted when they don’t fully emerge through the gum line. This leads to pain, swelling, and tooth decay among other dental issues. An impacted wisdom tooth might push other teeth out of its way, leading to alignment problems in your mouth.

Dentists suggest removing these potentially troublesome teeth to avoid future oral health complications.


  • Your dental professional will start by numbing the area with a local anaesthetic. You won’t feel pain, just some pressure.
  • If you’re really nervous, they might use sedation like laughing gas or an IV line to help you relax.
  • Making a small cut in the gum is necessary to get to the tooth.
  • Sometimes, they need to remove some bone around the wisdom tooth.
  • The surgeon may cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make it easier to take out.
  • After the tooth is out, they clean the site to prevent infection.
  • Stitches are used to close up the wound. These might dissolve on their own or you may need to have them taken out later.
  • They’ll give you a gauze pad to bite down on which helps stop the bleeding.

Your dental clinic team will explain how to care for your mouth after surgery and tell you about any signs of trouble you should watch for.

Risks Involved in Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom tooth removal carries risks such as infection, dry socket, damage to nearby teeth, and nerve damage. It’s essential to be aware of these potential complications before opting for the procedure.


After wisdom tooth removal, some people might get an infection in the socket where the tooth was. Signs you have this problem include feeling hot like you have a fever and hurting more than expected.

If these things happen to you, calling your dentist right away is very important.

Keeping the mouth clean can help stop infections from starting. Your dentist will tell you to rinse with salty water and how to brush your teeth without hurting the spot that’s healing.

They might also give you medicine that fights off germs if they think an infection could happen.

Dry socket

Dry socket is a common complication after wisdom tooth removal. It happens if the blood clot at the extraction site fails to form or gets dislodged too early. This condition can cause severe pain because the underlying bone and nerves become exposed to air, food, and bacteria.

Symptoms include throbbing pain in your gum or jaw, bad breath, and a taste that’s off in your mouth. The risk of dry socket increases with smoking, using straws, or not keeping up with oral hygiene.

To prevent this painful condition, follow your dentist’s advice on post-extraction care closely. This includes avoiding smoking and sucking actions that could dislodge the blood clot forming over your extraction site.

Proper care ensures quicker healing and lessens the chance of developing dry socket.

Damage to nearby teeth

Removing a wisdom tooth can harm the teeth close by. Sometimes, the extraction causes tooth decay or infections in these neighbouring teeth. This is because impacted wisdom teeth push against the second molars, which might lead to damage and make removal necessary.

Teeth next to the extracted site are at risk of getting hurt during oral surgery. The tools used or pressure applied can accidentally chip or crack them. Dental professionals take care to avoid such issues, but risks still exist.

Protecting nearby teeth is a key part of planning for wisdom tooth removal.

Nerve damage

After addressing potential damage to nearby teeth, we must consider nerve damage as a risk of wisdom tooth removal. The inferior alveolar nerve and lingual nerve are crucial nerves that might be affected.

If these nerves are damaged during the extraction, you could face permanent numbness or a change in sensation.

Nerve injury during dental procedures can seriously impact your quality of life. It might lead to challenges with speaking, eating, or even routine oral care tasks. Relieving pain becomes harder if such complications arise after surgery.

Dental professionals aim to minimise this risk by using careful techniques and modern dental technology during extractions.

Post-Extraction Expectations

Patients can expect some swelling and pain after wisdom teeth removal. This is normal. Doctors often suggest using an ice pack to help with the swelling. Eating soft foods can also aid in recovery.

Painkillers like ibuprofen are usually recommended for managing discomfort. It’s vital to follow the given instructions for care after surgery to avoid complications such as dry sockets or infections.

Recovery time varies, but most people start feeling better within a few days.

Recovery Period After Wisdom Teeth Removal

  • Recovery after wisdom teeth removal involves bleeding, swelling, and discomfort.
  • Most people fully recover within a week or two.
  • Signs of recovery include improvement day after day, with pain and swelling gradually tapering off.
  • It’s recommended to gently rinse your mouth and keep the extraction site clean.
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding certain drinks and smoking helps prevent dry socket.
  • Recovery time varies for each individual but most people fully recover within a week or two after wisdom teeth removal.

Preventing Dry Socket

To prevent dry socket after wisdom tooth removal, follow these steps:

  • Keep the extraction site clean by gently rinsing with salt water.
  • Eat soft foods and avoid drinking through a straw to reduce the risk of dislodging the blood clot.
  • Avoid hot liquids and spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the extraction site.
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco for at least 72 hours post – surgery to promote healing and reduce the risk of dry socket.

Remember, following these steps is vital for preventing complications after wisdom tooth removal.

When to Contact Your Dentist or Surgeon

If you experience difficulty swallowing or breathing, excessive bleeding, fever, severe pain, worsening swelling after two to three days, or blood or pus in nasal discharge, contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately. Your prompt action can ensure proper care and prevent potential complications. Taking proactive steps in monitoring your recovery is crucial for your overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out for any concerns or symptoms that may arise after wisdom tooth removal.

Alternatives to Wisdom Tooth Removal

Coronectomy offers a shorter recovery time and reduces the risk of nerve damage compared to wisdom tooth removal. Not removing impacted wisdom teeth can lead to pain, infections, decay, and damage to adjacent teeth; thus, removal is generally advised.

Consequences of Not Removing an Impacted Wisdom Tooth

Consequences of Not Removing an Impacted Wisdom Tooth

Leaving an impacted wisdom tooth in place can lead to persistent pain, inflammatory gum disease, and increased risk of infection. The trapped food particles around the impacted tooth can result in decay and cavities, causing further discomfort and complications.

Additionally, adjacent teeth may suffer damage or bone loss due to the pressure exerted by the impacted tooth. It is estimated that not removing an impacted wisdom tooth could contribute to dental problems such as pericoronal infection and ultimately impact overall oral health.

Furthermore, without extraction, there’s a heightened likelihood of experiencing greater pain over time along with potential sinus issues caused by inflammation around the affected area.

Researchers have found that up to 80% of young adults in Europe have at least one impacted wisdom tooth leading to various concerns including inflamed gums and severe discomfort. Ignoring treatment for these symptoms can result in prolonged suffering from dental pain and additional complications like facial trauma or jaw issues arising from untreated infections or bone loss associated with not extracting an impacted wisdom tooth promptly.

Final Thoughts

Wisdom tooth extraction is a necessary surgical procedure to prevent pain and dental problems. It is very important to get wisdom teeth removed from a dentist who specialises in this procedure because, like any surgical procedure, it carries risks. Dr Edward H Lee, the lead dentist at With U Implants in Hawthorn Melbourne is an expert in wisdom teeth removal. He is a teaching faculty for wisdom teeth removal & implants and also directs seminars on these subjects. 


During wisdom tooth removal, a dental surgeon uses local or general anesthesia to numb the area. They then perform a surgical procedure to remove the troublesome tooth.

Yes, you might feel some discomfort after the surgery when the anesthesia wears off. Pain management with medications like acetaminophen (paracetamol) can help relieve pain.

Like all surgeries, wisdom tooth extraction comes with risks such as infection, swelling, and more rarely, nerve damage or jaw issues.

After your wisdom teeth are taken out, it’s important to follow your dentist’s advice on brushing your teeth gently, using mouthwash correctly and possibly applying heat therapy if advised for healing

Avoid things that could slow down healing like smoking, drinking through straws or spitting forcefully for at least 24 hours post-surgery to prevent complications like dry socket (alveolar osteitis).

It’s wise to have someone accompany you since you’ll receive sedation (like intravenous sedation or nitrous oxide) making it unsafe to drive yourself home afterwards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *