Wisdom teeth removal is a fairly routine procedure that most people will undergo, since wisdom teeth are problematic more often than not. However, it is a surgical procedure, which mean that as with any surgery, there is some risk of complications.

Fortunately, serious complications are rare, and risk of less serious, but more common ones can be significantly reduced by carefully following the pre and post procedure instructions given to you by your Washington DC oral surgeon. Here are five common wisdom teeth removal complications, along with information on how to best avoid them:

  • Dry Socket –  The most common complication of tooth extraction, including wisdom teeth removal. Is dry socket, occurring in about 5 percent of cases overall. This painful condition happens when blood clots that form in the empty sockets to protect them as they heal are disturbed or don’t form properly. The best way to avoid this complication is to refrain from smoking, straw use or any other activity that creates suction in the mouth until extraction sites are healed. Additionally, it’s important to be very gentle as you rinse your mouth during those first few days and take care to avoid extraction sites during tooth brushing.
  • Swelling – Some swelling is normal after wisdom teeth removal. However, there are some things you can do to keep that swelling to a minimum. Elevating your head a bit when you’re lying down for the first few days after surgery can help, as can applying ice packs to your face as instructed by your oral surgeon. Also, limiting activity during the first 24 to 48 hours can also help control swelling.
  • Excessive Bleeding – Some light bleeding is to be expected after wisdom teeth removal, but if bleeding lasts more than 24 to 48 hours after surgery, is heavy or you find blood clots in your mouth, there may be cause for concern, so call your oral surgeon. In most cases, excessive bleeding problems can be avoided by resting throughout the first 24 hours after surgery and avoiding strenuous activities – anything that will increase your heart rate and blood pressure – for several days as your extraction sites heal.
  • Infection – Infection is a risk with any surgery, including wisdom teeth removal. You can minimize your risk of this complication by keeping your mouth and extraction sites very clean as healing progresses, which means rinsing your mouth after each and every meal or snack. Minimizing irritation to the extraction sites will reduce infection risk as well, so be sure you’re sticking to that recommended soft food diet and avoiding acid foods and drinks as well.
  • Pain – You can expect to have a sore mouth and jaw after surgery. However, pain should begin to subside after the first two or three days. If pain and stiffness increases instead, you may be developing dry socket, infection or other complications, so call your oral surgeon. Being too active after surgery can increase pain, as can venturing away from soft foods too early.

Although complications aren’t common after wisdom teeth removal and taking good care of yourself after surgery does minimize risk, complications can happen, even in people who follow the instructions of their Washington DC oral surgeon, like Drs. Emery and Ryan,  to the letter. For that reason, it’s important to know and watch for the most common complications and take any unusual symptoms seriously.

For more information on wisdom teeth removal surgery, contact our office in the Washington, DC area at (202) 386-7100.