When to Call Your Dentist After Wisdom Teeth Surgery

December 10, 2015


No matter who removes your wisdom teeth - whether it's an oral surgeon or another dental professional - you must keep the lines of communication open with your regular dentist. Wisdom teeth extraction requires aftercare to avoid infections, but even if you follow the doctor's orders, things can go wrong. Because of this risk, it's crucial to know what's normal and what's not when you're recovering. If any of these following situations occur, be sure to tell your dentist:

You ate solid food after the procedure

If you've had your wisdom teeth removed, you were probably told to wait a few days before eating solid foods. Taking a bite of that fast-food burger may be tempting when you've spent the past 24 hours consuming nothing but chicken broth and Jell-O. If you succumbed to the lure of solid food and feel pain afterwards, be sure to tell your dentist. You may have accidentally lodged a piece of burger or French fry in the sockets (the holes where the wisdom teeth once lived), which could lead to infection.

Man about to take bite of cheeseburger.
Be leery of what you eat following wisdom teeth surgery.

You experience extreme pain

You're bound to feel some level of discomfort, and your oral surgeon may prescribe painkillers to treat post-procedure aches. However, if those medications do not work, tell your dentist. While an oral care professional can offer more specific at-home postoperative advice, he or she can also determine if a more severe problem, like nerve damage or infection, is causing the pain.

You notice the socket looks empty

The removed wisdom teeth will leave behind small holes in the back of your mouth, but each socket should be filled with a blood clot to protect the bone and nerves at the extraction site, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the blood clot dissolves before the wound heals or you accidentally dislodge it, you may see the underlying bone and the socket will look empty.

This is called a "dry socket," and it's a fairly common occurrence during first week following wisdom teeth surgery. If this happens to you, contact your dentist, as he or she can clean the area and will provide you with tools for at-home care, such as medicated dressings and pain relievers.

You develop a fever

While it's normal to have a low-grade fever post-surgery, you body temperature shouldn't be higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the University of Oregon noted. If your temperature exceeds that limit or the fever persists more than a few days, contact your dentist. This may be a sign of an infection, and an oral care professional can prescribe the necessary antibiotics.

While some people never have a problem with their wisdom teeth, you should at least get a professional opinion on whether the molars require removal. Never ignore your dental health, as postponing appointments could lead to more serious issues. In fact, a longitudinal clinical trial published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery found that young adults who don't have their wisdom teeth removed before they turn 25 may be at a higher risk for oral diseases. Schedule an appointment using a dental discount card to consult with a dentist about your wisdom teeth.

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