ZocdocAnswersHow do you know if a wisdom tooth infection has spread?

Question

How do you know if a wisdom tooth infection has spread?

On Thursday, I went to the dentist about a bottom wisdom tooth that has been bothering me. He took one look at my tooth and said that it looks terribly impacted and then referred me to an oral surgeon. I asked whether it looked infected, and he said that antibiotics would not help at this point because it is so impacted and the antibiotics would not be able to reach the infected area. I have an appointment in 3 days, but I have also been experiencing intense jaw pain, swollen lymph nodes in my neck and hopefully unrelated chest pain for the past day or so. Should I just wait for my appointment on Tuesday, or do you think I need to be checked out sooner?

Answer

So sorry to hear about your pain. Pain from an infected tooth can become a serious problem. If there is an infection that becomes bad enough, pus can form in the area that can spread into the neck and jaw, and can even affect your ability to breathe. In very rare cases, it can send infection to other parts of your body as well, and can lead to a condition known as sepsis. For that reason, it is important to discuss your concerns with your dentist. If things do get worse, it may be important to be seen in a more urgent fashion, possibly including going to the emergency department. While this is a sub-optimal treatment method, it remains the best way to get immediate attention for some problems. If you experience high fevers, pus in your mouth, increasing swelling and redness over your jaw, or other concerns, you need to be seen sooner rather than later. Often, removing the tooth is enough to fix the problem. If it is not treated for a long time, it can lead to other problems that need more involved treatment. Please speak with your doctor or your dentist about this problem.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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