Reviewed by Dr. Thao Le, DDS, MD

An infection is the last thing you want to deal with after a wisdom tooth extraction. Infections can lead to pain, discomfort, and potential complications that can prolong your healing process. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the common signs of infection, what causes infections after wisdom teeth removal and, most importantly, how to avoid them.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Follow your surgeons post-operative instructions to avoid infection after wisdom tooth extraction. Maintain good oral hygiene, rinse with salt water rinses, and take prescribed medications as indicated. To ensure a smooth recovery, do not smoke tobacco, marijuana or vape for four weeks after surgery.

Common Signs Of Infection

Keep an eye out for any signs of infection. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain or discomfort that persists or worsens after a few days
  • Swelling that does not go down after a few days
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Redness and/or pus around the surgical site

Contact your surgeon immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

What Causes Infection After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

To avoid infection, you need to understand what causes them. Most infections occur because bacteria enter the surgical site. Let’s discuss four common causes of infection:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Dry socket
  • Smoking and vaping

Poor Oral Hygiene

When wisdom teeth are extracted, the gums and surrounding tissues are left vulnerable to bacteria and debris. You can minimize the risk of infection by practicing good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. 

Proper oral care keeps the extraction sites clean, reducing the chances of bacteria entering the open wounds and causing infections.

After surgery, it’s essential to follow these tips to ensure proper healing:

  • Brush and floss your teeth the night of surgery
  • Use the mouthwash prescribed by your surgeon after brushing and flossing
  • Gently rinse with warm salt water at least three times a day or after every meal

*In the first 24 hours after surgery, be careful when you rinse your mouth. Do not rinse or spit vigorously.  Gently swish mouthwash and salt water and let it fall out of your mouth rather than spitting it out.

Bacterial Contamination

Bacteria can easily enter the open wounds and cause infections. To prevent this, your surgeon will most likely prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse for you to take after surgery. Following the dosage and duration will maximum effectiveness in fighting off potential infections.

Dry Socket

Dry socket is a condition that can occur after tooth extraction. When the blood clot in the tooth socket is prematurely lost or dissolved, it exposes the underlying bone and tissue to bacteria, causing a painful infection. Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions carefully to prevent dry socket. These instructions will include the following:

  • Avoid using straws or smoking
  • Don’t rinse your mouth vigorously
  • Avoid hard and crunchy foods that can dislodge the blood clot
  • Maintain good oral hygiene following surgery

*If you experience severe pain at any point after your surgery, contact your surgeon’s office immediately. 

Smoking and Vaping

Smoking and vaping can greatly increase the risk of infections after wisdom teeth removal. The chemicals in cigarettes and vape pens can irritate the surgical site, leading to inflammation and increasing the chances of bacterial contamination. Avoid smoking and vaping for at least 4 weeks after surgery.

How To Avoid Infection After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Here are some key steps you can take to avoid infection and promote proper healing after wisdom teeth removal.

Use Gauze Pads Appropriately

After surgery, your surgeon will give you gauze pads to control bleeding. Bite on a moistened gauze pad for 30-45 minutes, then discard it. Use a new gauze pad every time you need to control bleeding.

Warm Salt Water Rinses

Rinse your mouth with warm salt water rinses to reduce bacteria and promote healing. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gently swish it around your mouth. Do this at least three times a day or after every meal to keep the extraction sites clean.

Take Prescribed Medications

Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication and antibacterial mouth rinses to help you manage discomfort and prevent infections. Take these medications as prescribed for maximum effectiveness.  Remember to finish the whole course of mouth rinse, even if you start feeling better.

Get Enough Rest

Rest is essential for proper healing after surgery. Restrict your activities on the day of surgery and avoid strenuous activities in the following days. Get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal properly. Resume normal activities when you feel comfortable. 

Eat the Right Foods

Eat soft foods that won’t irritate the surgical site. Stick to a diet of soft, nutritious foods such as soups, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and smoothies for the first few days after surgery. Avoid hard and crunchy foods that can dislodge blood clots and irritate the extraction sites.

Stay Hydrated

To stay hydrated, drink lots of fluids throughout the day. Since your food intake will be limited during the initial 1-2 days, compensate by consuming at least 1-2 liters of fluid daily.

Following these tips can minimize the risk of infection after wisdom teeth removal and promote a speedy recovery. Remember, if you experience any signs of infection or have any concerns during your recovery process, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon for further instructions.

Foley & Le – Your Oral Surgeon in Boulder, CO

We understand that wisdom teeth removal can be daunting, but our experienced team at Foley & Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons is here to guide you through every step. Our goal is to provide safe, effective, and comfortable treatment for all our patients. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your oral surgery needs!

If you are searching for ‘wisdom tooth extraction in Boulder, CO’ or ‘the best wisdom teeth removal near me,’ we can help! Call (303) 444-2255 to book an appointment or complete the online booking form.

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