Located in the very back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are the last to erupt and usually appear anytime from your late teens to mid-twenties. People normally have four wisdom teeth, according to the Better Health Channel, with one tooth on the top and bottom of each side of the mouth. Like any other wound in the body, the hole where a wisdom tooth was extracted can become infected. You can spot signs of an infection through one or a combination of indicators, and should contact your dentist for treatment as soon as possible.
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Running a fever is a reliable sign of infection after a wisdom tooth extraction. MedlinePlus notes that an increase in the body’s temperature, or a fever, is one way that the body fights an infection. Most infection-causing bacteria begin to die at temperatures higher than 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and adults are generally considered to have a fever if their temperature rises above 99 degrees Fahrenheit. If you think you have an infection in the hole where a wisdom tooth was extracted, take your temperature. Your dentist will probably prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection and lower your temperature.
Infections are often accompanied by tenderness in the infected location, but pain or tenderness by itself might not indicate that you have an infection in the hole where your wisdom tooth was removed. People who have a wisdom tooth extracted will experience pain at the extraction site, from the extraction itself and from the stitches used to help seal the hole left by the wisdom tooth.
If you experience severe pain, you might have a dry socket, particularly if the pain runs up your jaw line toward the ear. Dry sockets occur when the blood clot, or scab, protecting the wound from your wisdom tooth extraction is lost, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. This can happen when you create a pulling motion with the mouth, as when you suck on a straw or smoke. Having a dry socket does not mean you have an infection, but your jaw tissue is more likely to become infected without the blood clot to protect it from food debris and bacteria. If you have a dry socket, your dentist will probably treat it with medicated gauze to relieve the pain. If your dry socket has become infected, she will probably prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection.
Just as open wounds on your skin can form pus when infected, so can the wound created when your wisdom tooth was extracted. If you have an infection, a yellow or white discharge, or pus, may form in the wound. As pus builds in the wound, it can leak or spill into your mouth, causing a bad or salty taste. If you have an infection in your wisdom tooth extraction site, your dentist will probably prescribe an antibiotic that will kill the infection and cause the pus to stop forming.