Skip to main content

Do you want to know the potential risks of wisdom teeth extraction? You’re in the right place. Understanding these risks is crucial as it equips you to make informed decisions about your oral health. By delving into the possible challenges that can arise during this procedure, you’ll be better prepared for a smooth and successful wisdom tooth extraction.

Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical intervention to remove one or more wisdom teeth. This procedure is necessary when a wisdom tooth is impacted or triggers pain, infections, or other dental problems. One of the most prevalent complications associated with wisdom tooth removal is a condition known as a dry socket.


What Are the Possible Complications of Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

While wisdom tooth removal is a proactive step in preventing future dental issues, it’s important to be aware that some potential risks and complications may arise in the aftermath of the procedure.

Dry Socket

Among the most common side effects associated with wisdom tooth removal is the occurrence of a dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis. This condition arises when the blood clot in the tooth socket fails to form, dislodges, or dissolves. A dry socket typically manifests three to five days after the surgical procedure.

Nerve Damage

Another potential side effect associated with wisdom tooth removal is the risk of damaging portions of the trigeminal nerve, which could lead to discomfort, tingling sensations, and numbness in areas such as your tongue, lower lip, chin, teeth, and gums. In the early stages of dry socket, the pain might radiate from the socket towards your ear, eye, temple, or neck on the same side of your face as the extraction.

Pain and Swelling

The recovery process can extend to two weeks following wisdom tooth removal surgery. Swollen lips and cheeks are expected during the initial phase, but they tend to improve in the subsequent days. You can gently place a cold cloth on your face to alleviate swelling.


If you experience persistent discomfort and/or swelling within the initial two to three days post-wisdom tooth removal, it may indicate the presence of a wisdom tooth infection. Look out for signs like a yellow discharge from the infected socket, which can lead to an unpleasant taste. You might also exhibit symptoms of feeling unwell or running a fever.

Excessive Bleeding

Typically, bleeding should cease within 2-3 hours, but it’s common to observe saliva tinged with blood for up to 24-48 hours post-surgery. If you experience continuous bleeding beyond this timeframe, it could signal various issues such as a dislodged clot, the presence of a dry socket, or potential clotting difficulties if bleeding persists more heavily or frequently after the initial 48 hours.

Trismus or Limited Mouth Opening

It’s perfectly normal to experience jaw stiffness and pain following oral surgery, which can sometimes limit your ability to open your mouth (known as trismus) fully. This discomfort arises from the surgical procedure involving the jaw muscles in and around the surgical area. While this condition usually lasts for a few days to a week, in some cases, jaw stiffness may persist for a more extended duration.

Negative Reaction to Anesthesia

Itching is a relatively mild symptom that some patients might experience. However, anaphylaxis at its most severe can lead to breathing difficulties and, in extreme cases, even fatalities if immediate medical intervention is not provided. Fortunately, anaphylaxis is rare, and most reactions tend to be minor. It’s crucial to inform your dentist of allergies to specific medications and anesthetics to ensure safe dental procedures.

Maxillary Sinus Opening

Upper wisdom teeth often have roots that extend into the maxillary sinus cavity. After the extraction of an upper wisdom tooth, there’s a possibility of a hole forming where the roots are connected to the sinus. This presents a potential sinus infection risk, as food particles and oral bacteria can enter the sinus cavity through this opening.

Fractured Jaw

A rare but significant complication, most commonly occurring in the pre-angular area after the extraction of a third molar, is a lower jaw fracture. If left untreated, this can lead to pseudoarthrosis.

While wisdom tooth removal is generally considered a safe surgical procedure, it’s essential to acknowledge that all surgeries have inherent risks. The abovementioned complications represent potential risks patients might encounter following wisdom teeth extraction.


How to Reduce Risks Associated with Wisdom Tooth Extraction

The best way to minimize risks related to extraction is to adhere to the dentist’s or oral surgeon’s after-care recommendations. These include quitting smoking for 24 hours, cooling the mouth and jaw with ice, rinsing with warm salt water, and maintaining mild dental hygiene techniques.


Is Wisdom Teeth Extraction a Dangerous Procedure?

No procedure is entirely risk-free, and wisdom tooth removal is no exception. However, the associated risks are generally minimal. Potential risks include the development of a dry socket, which occurs when a blood clot fails to form in the tooth socket or becomes dislodged.


When to Seek Professional Help

Immediately go to your dentist if you’re experiencing the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Fever.
  • Severe pain not relieved by prescribed pain medications.
  • Swelling that worsens after two or three days.
  • A bad taste in your mouth is not removed with saltwater rinsing.
  • Pus in or oozing from the socket.

Can You Get Sick From Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Yes, it's possible to experience discomfort and develop a mild fever for a day or two following the surgery. Occasionally, feelings of nausea or an upset stomach may arise, which can be attributed to the effects of anesthesia, the surgical procedure, or sedatives used during surgery. Fortunately, these symptoms tend to improve with time.

Can Wisdom Teeth Removal Cause Flu Like Symptoms?

Yes. It's not uncommon for patients to experience flu-like symptoms after having their wisdom teeth removed, and this occurs more frequently following extractions than routine dental cleanings. These symptoms can be a response to the extraction process, particularly if you have an underlying medical condition or a weakened immune system. Additional potential side effects during extraction encompass nausea, jaw swelling, and lip soreness.

Can Wisdom Tooth Removal Cause Permanent Nerve Damage?

Yes. Nerve damage, though rare, can lead to permanent impairment if the nerve has suffered severe injury. In most cases, however, any nerve damage encountered during wisdom tooth extraction is temporary and typically lasts for several weeks or months.


What else do I need to know about wisdom tooth extraction besides its risks?

In addition to understanding the potential risks, it’s essential to be aware of the wisdom tooth removal itself, preparation, anesthesia options, recovery, selecting the right professional, cost and insurance considerations, alternatives, indications for extraction, and the timeline for each stage of the process.

Jacob Vayner at Esthetic Smile Dental Care has over 19 years of experience in dental implant surgery since 2011 and will help you get your smile back! Make an appointment with us to learn more about the risks of wisdom tooth removal. Reach out to Jacob Vayner at Esthetic Smile Dental Care.