Over five million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year. The procedure is a
common one and can be done by a qualified dentist or an oral surgeon. Experts estimate that
nearly 85% of all people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed to prevent problems
with their smile.
However, no procedure is without its risks, and wisdom tooth removal is no exception. While
the majority of procedures go according to plan, you should be aware of the potential
complications of wisdom tooth removal before your procedure.
Dry socket is one of the more common complications of wisdom tooth removal and happens
when the blood clot that forms over your surgical site is either dislodged or never properly
formed in the first place. Dry socket only causes pain, but delays healing as well.
Most people develop dry socket approximately three days following the procedure. Patients
most at risk to experience this complication include smokers, patients over 25 years of age, or
people who fail to follow their dentist’s instructions for healing.
How do you know if you have dry socket? You may have pain that ranges from moderate to
severe with a bad taste in your mouth. Dry socket will need to be treated by your dentist so
don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you’re experiencing symptoms of this complication.
There is a chance you may develop an infection in one of the areas where your wisdom teeth were removed. Less than 5% of cases experience infection following the procedure, making this a rarer complication of wisdom tooth removal.
If your swelling hasn’t gone down in approximately three days after the procedure, you may
have an infection. Other symptoms include a foul taste in your mouth, worsening pain, or a
fever. You’ll need to be treated by your dentist for an infection; an antibiotic will usually suffice if the infection is caught early enough.
Of course, bleeding during and after the procedure is normal and can usually be stopped with
gauze. However, some patients experience excessive bleeding either during their wisdom tooth
removal or after.
If you experience significant bleeding during the procedure, your dentist will be present to
handle the problem. If you experience persistent bleeding following the procedure, you can use
gauze and apply firm but even pressure on the area for 30 minutes, and be sure to keep your
Should you have any concerns about your amount of bleeding, don’t hesitate to reach out to
your dentist. Oral bleeding has a tendency to look worse than it actually is, as blood mixes with
saliva, but you should always call your dentist with any concerns.
Nerve Damage (Paresthesia)
The wisdom teeth are located close to a major nerve that runs through the jaw. During the
majority of procedures, this nerve is unaffected. However, in some cases, a difficult extraction
can cause the nerve to be damaged.
You may experience temporary or permanent numbness in the soft tissues of your mouth as a
result of this damage, although in most cases, the numbness will subside and your nerve
function will return to normal.
It’s important to remember that while wisdom tooth removal isn’t without its risks, the
procedure is considered safe and most people return home to heal without issue. Should you
have more questions or concerns about potential complications of your wisdom tooth removal,
always ask your dentist!