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Tooth Extraction: Understanding Possible Complications

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Dental hygiene is key to preserving the health of your mouth. Even with the most pristine and routine care, you may find yourself in need of a tooth extraction. One of the most common needs for tooth extraction is for wisdom teeth that have become bothersome or harmful to your health if left in place. If you are due to have a tooth extracted, you may be curious about possible complications to look out for. Identifying complications in their infancy can help you control pain and side effects associated with it. Below is a breakdown of complications that can be experienced as part of the tooth extraction process.

Dry Sockets

When a tooth is extracted, an empty socket will remain until the mouth heals. Ideally, a blood clot will form in the empty socket to protect the socket from filling with bacteria or food particles. If the blood clot prematurely loosens, the socket is exposed and susceptible to infection. When the socket becomes infected, it is referred to as a dry socket or alveolar osteitis.

Signs and symptoms of a dry socket include the following:

  • Extreme, throbbing pain
  • Foul smell emanating from the socket
  • Putrid taste in the mouth

Dry sockets do not appear immediately after extraction. It can take several days for an infection to fester long enough to show outward symptoms. If you start to show signs of infection, you need to contact your dentist or surgeon immediately for infection controlling medication.


While bone fractures are extremely rare, they are a possibility. Some wisdom teeth grow in odd directions or are located at an awkward angle to the jaw bone. Other times, during the process of extraction, another tooth can be fractured. A fractured tooth is easier to correct than a fractured jaw bone.  The fracture can also happen post-surgery. The force of the extraction can weaken the bone. The weakened bone can later break as a result of the extraction.

While fractures are incredibly rare, it is important to address this issue with your dentist or surgeon. Since force is the driving factor behind fractures, make sure your surgeon is qualified and has as a reputable history when it comes to tooth extraction.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage, or paresthesia, occurs when the root of the tooth being extracted lies too closely to a nerve in the mouth. When the nerve is nicked or otherwise damaged during the extraction process, temporary or permanent nerve damage can occur. This nerve damage can manifest itself in a few different ways:

  • Numbing sensation in the face or mouth
  • Tingling sensation in the face or mouth
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty chewing

With proper inspection through x-rays PRIOR to your surgical extraction, a dentist or surgeon can gauge the likelihood of paresthesia. In cases where there is a possibility of paresthesia, alternative options may be considered.

There are some cases in which tooth extraction cannot be avoided. If you find yourself in this situation, don't let the complications scare you from having the procedure done. Speak candidly with your dentist or surgeon about your cares and concerns regarding possible complications. They will be able to break down your exact likelihood of complications based on your particular situation. For more information, contact a business such as New Image Cosmetic & Family Dentistry.