Potential complications of wisdom tooth surgery

Wisdom teeth can be a real pain – literally. That’s because when they push against your other teeth, they can cause pain and they can even make your teeth crooked. For these reasons, the removal of wisdom teeth is a common procedure in the UK.

If you’re having a wisdom tooth taken out soon, then read on, because in this post, we’ll go over the most common complications of wisdom tooth surgery and how to deal with each one.


Inflammation, in the form of puffy and swollen cheeks, is the most frequent complication of wisdom tooth extraction. Around 8% of post-surgery patients experience inflammation, according to a study by Bui et al. in 2003. The reason inflammation doesn’t affect more people is that surgeons usually prescribe an anti-inflammatory after the surgery, thus helping to prevent inflammation. If your cheeks do become inflamed and puffy though, try applying a cold pack to your face as this can reduce swelling.


Infection is another possibility when you get a wisdom tooth removed. The signs of infection are fever, swelling, pain, bad breath and white discharge (pus) in the days after the surgery, so look out for these and make an appointment with your surgeon if you do have these signs.

You can prevent infections in the first place by taking your antibiotics as directed and by cleaning the wound with a syringe and warm salt water. Your surgeon should provide you with a syringe to use at home, but if you don’t have one, then you buy one from a pharmacy.

Don’t worry too much about infections though, because it’s rare to get one after wisdom tooth surgery: they only occur in 1% of wisdom tooth patients, according to the 2003 study by Bui et al. This is because patients receive antibiotics after surgery, thus making an infection unlikely.

Dry socket

Pain after getting your wisdom teeth removed is entirely normal, but if your pain gets worse over time instead of better then you might have a condition known as “dry socket”. This is when the protective blood clot over the surgical site gets dislodged, thereby exposing the wound. The main symptom of dry socket is an acute, worsening pain a few days after the surgery.

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to dry socket. So to prevent dry socket from happening to you in the first place, remember to take lots of rest after the surgery. Don’t do any exercise or heavy lifting for the first week or two as it could dislodge the all-important clot.

But if you do develop a dry socket, then see your surgeon as soon as possible. The surgeon will fix the problem by cleaning the site and then covering it with a temporary dressing.


Now that you know about the complications of wisdom tooth removal and how to deal with them, you’ll hopefully feel more confident about getting your wisdom teeth taken out. Essentially, it’s just a matter of taking the prescribed medication, keeping the wound clean and not over-exerting yourself. See you next month for more words of “wisdom”!

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