Question: After having my wisdom teeth removed, I felt swelling over the extraction site. Is this normal?

Answer: Swelling after removal of wisdom teeth is normal. In fact, minor swelling occurs in almost all dental extractions and will often subside as the extraction site heals.

Wisdom tooth and dentist extraction forcepsWhy is there swelling after removal of wisdom teeth?

Pulling out teeth is very stressful on the gums and since wisdom teeth are molars, these are mostly rooted deeper in the gums which make these teeth more painful and more complicated to remove compared to incisors and canines.

When a tooth is removed, the body mobilizes chemicals that will help heal the open gums just like any typical wound. Blood rushes to the part and delivers these chemicals which will cause swelling, redness and heat. Minimal amount of swelling is normal but prolonged swelling accompanied by other symptoms may be a sign of an infection.

Unusual swelling and other signs to watch out for

  • Swelling that lasts for days is an unusual sign. Swelling that affects eating and talking could be gum infection.
  • Bleeding from the excision site days after the surgery is a sign of an open wound. If the wound has been sutured check if these are in place.
  • Pain on the excision site together with swelling is common on the first 24 to 48 hours but extreme pain and prolonged swelling may already be a sign of infection.
  • Fever together with swelling is a sign of an infection of the excision area. Usually the patient feels feverish or may have low-grade fever hours after the procedure but longer than this could be an unusual sign.
  • Pus is a clear, viscous liquid that may develop on the wound when there is an infection.
  • Painful and palpable lymph nodes located along the neck and the nape of the neck may be normal after the surgery but must already subside after the wound has completely healed. Prolonged pain and swelling of the lymph nodes could only mean there is an infection.

What to do when these happen

When there is prolonged swelling accompanied by fever, extreme pain, bleeding, formation of pus and swelling of the lymph nodes you should consult your dentist right away. He will examine the excision site and check the sutures of the wound if they are in place and to run a physical exam along with diagnostic tests to rule out an infection.

Early assessment of your condition will help your dentist prevent complications. When sutures are amiss or removed, your dentist will schedule another dental appointment to repair these as soon as possible. He will usually prescribe antibiotics for infection and pain relievers for pain.

You may also apply home remedies to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. One such remedy is to use cold compresses. Cold will help reduce swelling and pain and may also help ease bleeding and pus formation. You may use a cold compress, an ice bag or slowly melt an ice cube in your mouth.


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