An abscess develops when bacteria are able to access the tooth’s pulp, creating an infection that can easily spread to the bone and possibly elsewhere in the body. Patients who have an abscess will notice significant discomfort. Pus—the byproducts of infection—may also be present, and the infection can create an odor, too.
The wisdom teeth are particularly susceptible to abscesses because of their location. It is very difficult to keep the rearmost portion of the jaw clear of bacteria, especially when the wisdom teeth are partially erupted.
It can also be difficult to detect smaller cavities in the wisdom teeth, so those cavities can spread, giving the bacteria access to the tooth’s pulp.
Modern humans no longer have much use for their wisdom teeth, and the jaw is too narrow to accommodate these large teeth in most patients. Consequently, many patients often turn to an oral surgeon to remove the wisdom teeth to prevent potentially serious dental problems like abscesses. This extraction often happens even if the patient is not experiencing symptoms.
Impacted wisdom teeth can be associated with other problems in addition to an increased risk of infection. The third molars can knock the other teeth out of alignment or damage neighboring teeth as they continue to attempt to emerge. They may also cause discomfort for the patient.
It is easiest to remove the wisdom teeth before the patient turns 25 years old. In younger patients, the roots of the wisdom teeth are shorter and not as solidified in the bone. Additionally, younger patients tend to recover more quickly from the extraction procedure.
A wisdom tooth abscess can have serious consequences for your oral health. If you are showing signs of an abscess, don’t try to manage the problem yourself with over-the-counter painkillers. Contact our experienced team of oral surgeons to explore wisdom tooth extraction. If you still have your wisdom teeth, you may also want to consider extraction to reduce your chances of complications that can affect your oral health.