girl in pain at dentist office

Signs of Wisdom Tooth Infection

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When wisdom teeth start to come in, it can be painful. What's even worse is when those wisdom teeth get infected. It's more common than you think––because wisdom teeth are located so far back in the mouth, they're harder to clean properly. With wisdom teeth that are partially impacted, the infection risk is even higher because bacteria and food particles can become trapped in the gum tissue surrounding the part of the tooth that has emerged. If you believe you have signs of wisdom tooth infection, or pericoronitis, it is important to get treatment as soon as possible.

Here's what you should look for:


When you get any infection, a fever is usually one of the first symptoms you experience. This is true of wisdom tooth infections too. You may have a fever or chills as your body works to fight off the infection.

Sore Gums

Gum tissue is naturally sore as wisdom teeth emerge. The difference between this normal tenderness and the soreness you experience with a wisdom tooth infection is the intensity. You'll feel throbbing pain in the area of your wisdom tooth. Your gum tissue will be red and swollen. Sometimes your gums may even bleed. The area will be so tender that you may have difficulty brushing and flossing around the tooth in question.

Jaw Pain

The soreness in your gums will usually be accompanied by jaw pain. Some people also experience muscle spasms in the jaw that can make it difficult to open their mouths.


Swelling begins in the tissue surrounding the infected wisdom tooth. As the infection progresses, you'll begin to have swelling in the jaw, throughout the face, and even in your lymph nodes. Along with the swelling, you may experience tenderness in these areas.

Difficulty Eating

Because of the swelling and soreness you're experiencing, you may also have difficulty eating. Pain usually intensifies when biting and chewing because of the pressure being placed on the infected tooth. Infections can also make you lose your appetite.

Foul Odor and Taste

Another reason you might not have much of an appetite is that you may have a foul taste and odor in your mouth. This is caused by pus seeping out of the infected tissue and into the rest of your mouth. To temporarily alleviate this symptom, you can try rinsing with warm salt water.

How to Treat a Wisdom Tooth Infection

If you've read through this list and believe you have a wisdom tooth infection, call your dentist and make an appointment for an exam as soon as possible. Bacteria from a wisdom tooth infection can spread to other areas of the body, so it's important to treat the tooth promptly.

There is no home remedy for a wisdom tooth infection; it must be treated by a dentist or oral surgeon. Treatment usually involves thoroughly cleaning the area around the tooth to clear away bacteria and food debris. This is followed by a course of oral antibiotics. Later, when the infection has resolved, you'll return to have your wisdom tooth extracted

Make an Appointment

Do you think you have a wisdom tooth infection? Contact us today at 301-515-2466 and schedule an appointment to see Dr. Cooper at our Germantown, MD office.