Bad Taste In Mouth After Wisdom Tooth Removal

Immediately after having the wisdom teeth removed you will notice a bad taste in your mouth from the socket bleeding. It'll be a bloody metallic taste from the iron in the blood. However that should subside once the bleeding stops over the next few hours.


If you're still having a persistent bad taste in your mouth even after the bleeding has stopped, it means that something is wrong. It could be something very minor or it could also be something major but it all depends on if that foul taste is accompanied with pain.



Table of Contents:



Bad taste without pain after extraction

If you're having a bad taste in your mouth without pain after wisdom teeth removal it most likely means that you're getting food and plaque trapped in and around the socket. You were most likely avoiding the area while brushing and also not rinsing vigorously enough with salt water.


You've been brushing the area less

It's not uncommon for people to be avoiding the extraction site and brushing the area less than usual. The fresh socket hurts so why would you go traumatize it some more by brushing it or near it? Surely you can take a couple of days off with the oral hygiene at least until it heals more right?


fresh extraction socket immediately after
fresh extraction socket immediately after

It is precisely that thinking which leads to an accumulation of plaque and food around/inside of the wisdom tooth hole. Plaque does not smell good in general and unremoved food inside of the hole is practically fermenting. Fermenting food definitely does not smell nor taste good.


Basically that bad taste is due to plaque and fermenting food that is stuck in the wisdom tooth hole. Fortunately for you, that is not an emergency but it is an inconvenience and also unpleasant.


The moral of the story is that just because you had a wisdom tooth extraction, it does not excuse you from your routine oral hygiene regime. You still need to brush and floss with or without an extraction. There are no exceptions nor exemptions when it comes to keeping your mouth clean!



You haven't been rinsing vigorously with salt water after meals

Aside from brushing the area, you should also be rinsing vigorously with salt water after every meal. This was part of the post-operative care instructions for after taking out your wisdom teeth.


The purpose of using a salt water rinse is to prevent food from getting stuck inside of the wisdom tooth hole. You will need to rinse very vigorously in order to get food out of there. If you don't do it, it is most likely the reason why you're getting food stuck in there and allowing it to ferment. The fermenting food which is stuck is a huge contributor to foul odors and bad tastes in your mouth.


This is how you make and rinse with salt water:

  1. Add 4 oz of water to a cup.

  2. Add 1 teaspoon of table salt. Make sure it is saturated, if it isn't then add more salt!

  3. Stir the mixture but make sure there is extra salt on the bottom.

  4. Rinse vigorously for about 1-2 minutes.

  5. Spit back out and do not swallow since it is high in sodium.

  6. Repeat after every meal.



How to get rid of the foul taste

Since the bad taste in your mouth is coming from unremoved plaque and food... all you need to do is to keep your mouth clean to get rid of the taste. This means you will need to stay on top of your oral hygiene as well diligently rinsing with salt water after meals.


Here are our top three tips for getting rid of the bad taste in your mouth after a wisdom tooth removal procedure:

  • Brush the area. Do not avoid brushing the area even if it may be a little sore. There is simply no other way to remove plaque and food particles if you don't. Just brush gently so that you can remove as much of it as possible.

  • Rinse with salt water after meals. One of the simplest and most effective ways to get food out of the wisdom tooth hole is by using a saline rinse. It should dislodge most of the food that gets stuck in there.

  • Use a water flosser. If you really have food stuck in there that you can't get out, you can try using a water flosser. Aim the pressurized water into the socket and flush it out. If you're able to angle it properly, it'll be equally as effective as if your dentist was doing it for you!


Just to remind you, these tips only work for bad tastes that come from your mouth WITHOUT any pain. If you're not having pain it means that it is not infected and that it is most likely just food that is stuck in the hole.


We do have another article dedicated solely to getting food stuck in the wisdom tooth hole if you wanted more methods on how to do it. We only listed the top three here.


If you are having pain that accompanies the bad taste, it is more than just food stuck in there. You will need professional intervention by your dentist which we will explain in the next section.




Bad taste with pain after extraction

If you're having a bad taste in your mouth with pain after wisdom teeth removal it most likely means an infection or a dry socket. Both of which are urgent situations that will require prompt attention by your dentist. Do not try to wait it out or attempt any home remedies in hopes of getting rid of it on your own.


Bad taste from infected wisdom tooth hole

A tell tale sign of an infection is the presence of pus, which is a white fluid that oozes out. Purulence contains a lot of dead bacteria as well as dead white blood cells. It also does not have a pleasant taste and to make matters worse, it will periodically ooze out of the socket.


As you may have imagined, an infection in the wisdom tooth hole will usually be accompanied by pain. Yes, the healing socket may be contributing to the pain but the infection will as well.


What you'll notice is that over the next few days the pain will have no improvement if little at all. That is another sign of an infection because a normal healing socket should have decreasing levels of pain with each passing day.


Signs of an infected wisdom tooth hole causing a bad taste:

  • Presence of pus

  • Foul taste

  • Increasing levels of pain with each day


Bad taste from dry socket

Instead of an infection, the combination of pain and bad taste in your mouth could be from a dry socket. This condition is when the blood clot fails to form, thus leaving exposed bone which is sensitive to everything that touches it.


A tell tale sign is the exposed bone and excruciating pain whenever food or liquids touch it. This level of pain does not subside easily and will last for a few weeks. Since the socket is not healing, the hole will be deeper than usual and that means a lot of food can get stuck in there which will cause a bad taste in your mouth.


Signs of a dry socket:

  • Excruciating pain. It will throb as soon as food touches the exposed bone.

  • Missing blood clot. There won't be a clot so you'll only see bone in the hole.

  • Exposed bone. Normally, a clot will cover the exposed bone but there won't be one.

  • Bad breath or foul odor. Since there is no clot covering the socket, a lot of food will get trapped in the hole. The bacteria in your mouth will start fermenting the food which results in a bad taste in your mouth.

  • Lack of blood in the socket. After having a tooth removed, you should be at least mildly bleeding or slightly oozing from the site for the next few days. In a dry socket, there will be minimal to no blood at all.

  • Slow healing. The clot is required as a normal process of healing. Since its missing the rate of healing will be severely delayed.


Last but not least as an interesting piece of information... dry sockets are actually not caused by rinsing, spitting, nor drinking through a straw. It is a biological process and not a mechanical one so just because you dislodge the clot by using a lot of force in your mouth you won't get a dry socket from it. Smoking however does increase the chances of you getting it so please don't smoke for the next three days minimum.


Stitches also will not prevent a dry socket due to the same reason as above. Thus don't think you'll get it just because your dentist didn't give you any stitches because it has nothing to do with that.



What you should do to get rid of the bad taste

Since the foul taste in your mouth is not just from stuck food in the wisdom tooth hole, simply flushing out the hole will not work. You will need to address the source of the pain as well as the foul taste, which is an infection or dry socket.


Both of those conditions cannot be treated at home and will require a visit to the dentist. There is no home remedy that will help you with this so do not delay and make your appointment promptly.


Treating a socket infection

For an infected socket, it will require multiple treatments in order to fight the infection as well as decrease the bad taste coming from it.

  • Flush it out. The infection inside of the hole will need to be cleaned out. Your dentist will scrape around in there and flush it all out. That should clear up a lot of the odor and taste coming from it.

  • Take antibiotics. In order to make sure that all of the bad bacteria that are causing it are dead you will need to take antibiotics. Once all of the bacteria are gone there will be no more pus and therefore no more foul taste.

  • Maintain oral hygiene. Food can still be getting stuck in the socket and thus resulting in the altered taste. You need to keep it all clean so that it doesn't stink.


Treating a dry socket

If it turns out to be a dry socket, it will take a long time to heal so you may have a bad taste in your mouth for quite awhile. Unfortunately the exact cause of it is still not fully understood by clinician nor researchers.


This is the current proposed treatments for the condition:

  • Induce bleeding in the socket. Your dentist will try to stimulate healing by forcing the socket to bleed. They may drill some holes into the bone to see if it helps.

  • Cleaning out the socket. Scraping around inside of the extraction socket may help it to move along the healing process.

  • Placing a medication in it. A dressing can be placed inside of it to help alleviate some of the pain. The dressing needs to be replaced every few days.

  • Pain medication. This is just palliative care to make it more comfortable while it slowly heals. This condition will have delayed healing.



Once the dry socket heals, you should experience less and less of the bad taste coming from it. It will be a slow process because dry sockets heal very slowly. Therefore you should try your best to at least prevent food from getting stuck in it so that it doesn't contribute to the taste and odor.




Takeaway

Despite having a hole in the gums after getting your wisdom teeth extracted, it shouldn't cause a foul taste in your mouth. It is normal to taste some iron which comes from the bleeding but a taste other than that is abnormal.


The bad taste may be an indication that either food is stuck in there, an infection, or even a dry socket. You can differentiate your condition from these based on whether or not there is accompanying pain. If there is no pain then it is most likely just food getting lodged into the socket. If there is pain then it may be an infection or dry socket. The latter will require a visit to the dentist.


However, if you're unsure about what it is you should just make an appointment with your dentist. That is the best thing to do since it is difficult for you to identify and diagnose dental conditions on your own. After all, you're not a dentist! There is nothing wrong with going in for a follow up appointment after the wisdom teeth removal anyway.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!