Tooth extraction is a complicated procedure that should only be carried out by a qualified and licensed dentist. If you are contemplating getting one or your dentist or primary care physician has recommended it, it is best to know what the procedure entails and what you are up against in case something goes wrong.
This article focuses on common complications of tooth extraction, along with their causes and risk factors.
1. Nerve injury
Nerve injuries are quite rare compared to other tooth extraction complications, and their damage is temporary in most cases. Sufferers of nerve injuries following a tooth extraction may experience numbness and a tingling sensation in the lower lip, chin, gums, teeth, and tongue.
Severe nerve injuries can interfere with one’s daily activities and even lower their productivity at work. The good thing is that you can seek compensation from the practice’s insurance company if the injury occurred through no fault of your own.
Medical malpractice lawyers such as the team at Tinker Law Firm can help investigate your case, estimate the value of your loss, prepare a compensation claim, and represent you in court if the case goes to litigation.
2. Dry socket
A dry socket occurs when a blood clot doesn’t form or is dislodged prematurely after an extraction. Dry sockets can be incredibly painful as they leave underlying nerves exposed.
Telltale signs to watch out for include a visible bone at the bottom of the void, unpleasant taste, bad breath, and pain between the socket and the ear, eye, neck, or temple.
Common risk factors for the complication include cigarette smoking, oral contraceptives, infections, past dry sockets, and poor at-home care.
3. Bone infection
A bone infection is another highly uncommon complication that occurs after tooth extraction.
Clinically known as osteomyelitis, the condition usually starts with the wound coming into contact with bacteria before spreading to the jawbone.
It is a serious condition, especially if not detected and treated early and can show symptoms such as redness or warmth, tenderness or swelling around the site of extraction, and fever. If you suspect you have a bone infection, inform your dentist about it as soon as possible.
Most bone infections occur as a result of botched procedures, so it is wise to entrust the extraction procedure with a dentist you trust.
4. Excessive bleeding
After tooth extraction, the area will bleed and clot after a few minutes. However, for some patients, a clot doesn’t form, or the bleeding goes on for up to 12 hours in what is known as PEB or post-extraction bleeding. Incessant bleeding can cause the patient distress and even call for emergency follow-up care.
Wrong medication and an underlying systemic disease are some of the most common culprits behind PEB.
5. Incomplete tooth removal
As the name suggests, incomplete tooth removal occurs when the dentist fails to remove the entire tooth during extraction.
The remnants may cause pain and bleeding and create a channel for infections. For this reason, patients must go back to a dentist to have the residuals removed upon detection of incomplete extraction.
The process of removing tooth residuals is often straightforward, but the dentist may have to perform additional procedures to fast-track clotting since the initial clot has to be dislodged.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a condition characterized by rotting of the jawbones that occurs if the patient is using drugs to treat or prevent conditions like multiple myeloma, osteoporosis, or bone cancer prior to the operation.
It is believed that bisphosphonates target the underlying bone and compromise the working of cells charged with breaking it down. Avoid teeth extraction as much as you can if you are using any osteoporosis.
It is also advisable to provide your dentist with all your medical records to help them formulate an extraction plan with past procedures and medications in mind.
A typical tooth extraction site takes at most seven days to heal. Complications can slow down the progress and cause serious, potentially irreversible damage to the jawbone and surrounding tissue and teeth.
Watch out for the above complications and inform your dentist if you suspect you have any of them. More importantly, ensure your tooth is extracted by a dentist with a good reputation whose practice is licensed and insured.