Tooth extraction is normally a simple procedure and is completed within half an hour. It becomes a tedious one in some circumstances where the larger tooth is to be removed or if the tooth is broken into pieces. In this case, there is a need to cut a portion of gum and sometimes a portion of the bone as well. Gauze is usually used to stop the bleeding by keeping it at the site and putting gentle pressure to initiate clotting of blood. However, in case of surgical extraction of the tooth, stitches are done to close the larger wounds and to promote the healing. Antibiotics are usually prescribed after tooth extraction to prevent infection and an analgesic medicine is given for reducing the pain. In some special cases such as if the patient already has some health issues related to heart, liver and/or some other organ, more care should be taken to avoid the complications.
After the tooth is pulled out, some complications may occur such as bleeding, dry socket, osteonecrosis, swelling, inflammation and infections. Pain, swelling, inflammation and bleeding are the common complications that are found in most of the patients. Osteonecrosis is a very rare complication which is found in cancer patients. Dry socket can be expected when the tooth of lower jaw is removed. It is a condition where the pain would be severe and unbearable. It is also a rare situation which sometimes may lead to jaw fracture. One of the most common complications after tooth extraction is infection.
Normally infection means the invasion of a microbe say bacteria at the site of wound. In case the patient has infection already, antibiotics are given to such patients to prevent further complications. In these cases, antibiotics are usually given prior to the surgery. Most of the procedure involves the prescription of antibiotics after the dental procedure. Despite that, infection can still occur; and hence one must look for the signs of infection and seek medical attention as soon as they notice it.
What are the Signs of Infection after Tooth Extraction?
Infection is ascertained by severe pain or swelling which may lead to the formation of pus if not treated in time. Formation of pus is a dangerous symptom of Sepsis. It may be caused by a fungus or bacteria or virus. This also gives bad taste and the mouth also smells bad. Some of the symptoms of infection1 are listed below:
- Bitter taste
- Unpleasant and bad breath
- Swelling which does not reduce after 2 – 3 days
- Severe pain which is not subside even after taking pain killer drugs
- Rise in body temperature
- Pain is radiated throughout the jaw
- Bleeding in excess
- Pus formation
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Numbness remains even after sometime.
Presence of one or more above listed symptoms provides proof of infection. The chances of infection increase even if any one symptom is neglected. It may spread even to bone2 and that becomes a serious complication. Sometimes, infection is confused with dry socket1 which is actually caused when the raw bone is exposed. In case if the infection turns to sepsis, it affects on the blood circulation and decreases the oxygen level in the body. Further sepsis can cause some more complications like emotional stress, can affect the mental health and also dehydrates the body.
How is the Infection After Tooth Extraction Treated?
There are different antibiotics available which are prescribed by the dentists or surgeons on the basis of the patient’s capacity of healing, the intensity of wound, the age and the kind of tooth which is removed. There are mild and strong antibiotics. As a first line of treatment, penicillin or amoxicillin is given. In case if the wound is deep and involves the surgery of bone, stronger antibiotics are given to rule out any infection. Gargling with salt water checks the growth of bacteria and may be helpful.
Precautions to be Taken to Avoid Infections After Tooth Extraction
Most patients, normally, can avoid having an infection at the site of tooth removal except in some people who are already suffering from other health conditions like tooth extraction in patients having liver problems and cardiovascular diseases. In such patients, adequate precautions would already be taken to avoid onset of infection. Some tips to be followed after tooth extraction which will help to prevent any sort of infection3 are:
- Poking or piercing with hand or any sharp objects is to be avoided.
- Brushing is to be postponed at least for 24 hours.
- Solid foods and foods that need to be chewed too much must not be eaten.
- Touching the site of extraction which is very tender either using finger and tongue must be restricted.
- Smoking is prohibited which may cause dry socket or even infection.
- Following the guidelines given by the health professionals is of utmost importance.
- Medicines are to be taken without skipping.
- Strenuous activities and exercises must be postponed.
- Hot and spicy foods should not be included in the diet at least for 3 to 4 days.
- Put gauze at the site of tooth extraction and bite it with slight pressure to stop bleeding; changing of gauze at every half an hour can be helpful.
- Sticking of any kind of food particles at the place of surgery is not allowed as it may accumulate the bacteria or other microbes and infection begins. Hence, one must rinse the mouth thoroughly after consumption of food.
- Treatment with salt water can avoid infection to some extent.
Even though simple extraction does not need antibiotics, doctors nowadays prescribe mild antibiotics to prevent the complications. It is very important to seek doctor’s advice if the patient develops even one sign of infection in the post-operative stage. Neglecting it might lead to serious complications which could have otherwise be prevented.