If you have not had your wisdom teeth removed, you may be at risk for an impaction. Because the tooth has not fully erupted, you may be unable to get the area clean when you brush and floss. This can cause an infection and, if not recognized and treated quickly by your dentist, can lead to serious local and systemic complications. Here are some warning signs of an infected impacted wisdom tooth and what you can do about them:
Bad Taste In Your Mouth
If you experience a bad or unusual taste in your mouth, it may mean that you have a purulent infection underneath your impacted tooth. The taste that you experience may be pus that is seeping into your mouth from your gum tissue.
To help eliminate the bad taste and curb the infection, rinse your mouth out with some hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Swish the solution around your mouth for a few seconds and then spit it out. While this is no substitute for dental treatment, it may decrease the bacterial count inside your mouth until you can see your dentist. Your dentist will take an X-ray of your wisdom tooth and determine if you should be referred to an oral surgeon for further evaluation and treatment.
If your impacted wisdom tooth is an upper tooth, you may experience sinus pressure over your cheekbones, under your eyes, or over your forehead. Also, if the infected impaction is not treated, it may spread into your sinus cavity.
If this happens, you may notice nasal congestion, loss of smell and taste, post nasal drip, and discolored mucus that is very thick. While your dentist will treat your tooth infection, you should also make an appointment with your family physician if you develop sinus symptoms.
In the meantime, drink plenty of water to thin out viscous sinus secretions so that they can drain more easily when you blow your nose. This will help reduce your risk for a more severe infection while relieving pain and pressure of your facial area.
If you develop fatigue, muscle or bone pain, headache, chest pain, chills, or fever, you may have an infected wisdom tooth. Sometimes the infected tooth does not cause local symptoms such as a toothache or gum inflammation. Instead, the infection can silently travel through your bloodstream, causing general malaise and illness.
If your physician is unable to determine the source of your infection, make an appointment with your dentist for a complete checkup. He or she may find evidence of a serious abscessed wisdom tooth that will need immediate treatment.
If your infection is not quickly treated with antibiotics, your systemic symptoms may worsen, possibly causing a painful inflammatory condition known as septic arthritis. This type of arthritis is caused by a severe infection and can sometimes develop as a result of a dental abscess. Even though your dentist treats your infected wisdom tooth, it may take many weeks before the pain and inflammation of septic arthritis subside.
If you develop severe pain in the area of a wisdom tooth, a bad taste in your mouth, sinus pain, loss of taste or smell, or systemic symptoms, make appointments with both your family physician and your dentist. The sooner your symptoms are treated, the less likely you will be to develop a more severe dental infection or septic arthritis. If you develop one impacted wisdom tooth, your dentist may recommend that you have the other wisdom teeth extracted to help prevent future infections or other complications that may arise as a result of a dental impaction.