Going to the dentist and having a tooth extracted seems like the smart and responsible thing to do. After all, if you let a tooth continue to decay, you risk an infection. However, many patients will suffer from an infection even after their tooth has been extracted.
Patients often wonder why they get an infection and how this could happen to them.
Why Infections Occur After Extraction
A person’s mouth is filled with bacteria. Foods we eat contain millions of bacteria that can cause our teeth to become infected. Since we often touch door knobs, sit in chairs and do everything else using our hands, we also add bacteria to our mouths by touching our lips or by eating food without washing our hands first.
All of this bacteria has a chance to cause an infection. There is a reason why antibiotics are given immediately following a tooth extraction. Sometimes, you can do everything in your power, but you will still get an infection.
Precautions to Take
There are times when all of the precautions in the world will not be able to prevent an infection. If you want to minimize your risks, you can follow these precautions to lower the chance of an infection occurring.
- The foods you eat will have to be eaten with great caution. During the first 48 hours, you may want to eat only meal replacements that come in liquid form.
- Brush your teeth like normal, but avoid the area of extraction. The area will be sore, tender and more susceptible to tearing open when brushing.
- Avoid sodas and acidic drinks as these can sting and hurt as well as cause infections to occur.
If you are worried about the possibility of an infection, you should consult with your dentist and express your concerns. Dentists have been known to start patients on antibiotics several days prior to extraction to lower the possibility of an infection occurring.
It is also recommended to avoid chewing gum, smoking or sucking on candies as this can cause the formed blood clot to dislodge and start bleeding. If the clot is dislodged, this will mean that the healing process needs to begin again and it leaves you open to further infection.
Signs of an Infection After Tooth Extraction
Tooth infections luckily exhibit the same signs over and over again. Since millions of people suffer from infections, it is easy to determine when an infection is present. The following signs are reason to schedule an appointment with your dentist as you likely have an infection:
- Bleeding that occurs 48 hours or more after extraction is a good indication that the gums are now infected.
- A foul smell or taste in the mouth is usually an indicator that an infection is present.
- Swelling of the face or gums beyond slight swelling from the extraction may be an abscess that has formed as a result of an infection.
- Wisdom teeth have been known to cause fevers when infected. If your wisdom teeth were extracted and you have a fever or feel ill, you most likely have an infection.
- Discharge that is coming from the gums is the puss leaving the infection. This drainage only occurs when an infection is present and an abscess of the gums has ruptured.
If you are exhibiting these symptoms, you should immediately call your dentist for a checkup. The typical course of action will be to drain the abscess if it is present and provide you with further antibiotics. As long as you seek medical attention quickly, you will be able to get rid of the infection quickly and without further escalation.