Updated: Aug 17
Extracting your wisdom tooth may have removed the source of the infection but the stitches that were placed are not immune to infection afterwards. There are a couple of reason as to how it can happen, which we will explain. We'll also give you some tips on what to look out for so that you know whether or not the stitches are infected.
Then we will give you an idea of what to expect for infected wisdom teeth sutures and also how to decrease the chances of it possibly reoccurring.
Table of Contents:
Can stitches get infected after wisdom teeth removal?
Any object which is constantly exposed to the oral environment, which contains a lot of bacteria can get infected and stitches are no exception. The two primary ways that you can get infected wisdom teeth stitches are from insufficient oral hygiene and also from residual infection.
Insufficient oral hygiene:
After the wisdom tooth removal even with stitches in place, there will still be a residual hole in the gums. That means it is quite easy for a lot of food and debris to get stuck in the hole and infect the stitches.
Therefore if you don't keep the entire area clean, it can and will get infected. We understand that the area is tender and sore after the procedure but it does not mean that you should avoid cleaning it. If you avoid it completely, that is how it can potentially get an infection.
The best way to keep the stitches clean is to rinse vigorously with salt water after every meal. That should be sufficient to prevent food from getting lodged into the socket.
Sometimes the wisdom teeth stitches could get infected because of a residual infection from the extraction site. What we mean is that usually the infection should clear because the source of it stems from the wisdom tooth. By removing the third molar, the infection should be gone.
However, there are times where the infection could've spread to a surrounding area and that may have avoided detection. This residual infection could grow and spread to the stitches, thus causing them to become infected.
Any object in the mouth can become infected
We would like to emphasize that any object inside of the mouth can get infected and having the stitches become so is not unusual. The primary reason is because the mouth is full of bacteria which is usually not a problem because there is a balance of the good ones and the bad ones. Although once in a while, the bad ones can outgrow the good ones and cause a problem.
Here are some infections that we see with other objects in the mouth:
Infected tongue piercings
Infected lip piercings
Crowns can get infected
Implants can get infected too!
What do infected wisdom teeth stitches look like?
Infected wisdom teeth stitches actually look very similar to normal ones. The exception is that you would maybe find some pus coming out of the area if you try touching it. The presence of purulence is an indication that the site is infected.
Pus is basically composed of dead white blood cells and bacteria. The color is white and it looks kind of similar to if you were popping a pimple.
The stitches can vary in color. It could be yellow, white, blue, purple, black, and etc.
How to tell if your wisdom teeth stitches are infected
You may be wondering if your wisdom teeth stitches are infected or not. Here are a couple of signs that may indicate that they could be infected:
Presence of purulence
Area looks reddish
Inflamed and swollen
If you see pus, then it is a definitive sign that it is infected. The other three symptoms and signs may indicate that it could be but not necessarily.
You can just be on the lookout for any pus. Its a white fluid so its hard to miss. The area may still be slightly oozing blood which is red and that is normal. It is when you see the color white mixed in that you should be concerned.
What to do if your wisdom teeth stitches are infected
If your wisdom teeth stitches get infected, you will definitely need to see a dentist because there isn't a home remedy that will get rid of it. What needs to be done is to clean out the entire socket and then flush it out with an antibacterial solution. That is simply impossible for you to do with a home remedy.
What to expect for the procedure:
Administer local anesthetic.
Clean out the inside of the socket to remove all infection.
Flush out the hole with an antibacterial solution.
Put in new stitches.
Your dentist will most likely put you on a round of antibiotics just to be safe. They'll also prescribe you an antibiotic mouth rinse to use for the next 2 weeks. This will ensure that the infection does not return.
How to prevent the stitches from becoming infected
After having the extraction site cleaned out, there are a couple of things which you should do so that it doesn't happen again.
Finish the antibiotics. You should definitely finish the entire course of the medication, which is about one week. It should kill off any residual bacteria.
Use the antibiotic mouth rinse. This rinse is used twice a day and it will help keep the area clean and free of bacteria. Consequently it also helps the wound heal faster.
Rinse with salt water. After every meal, you should be rinsing vigorously with a salt water rinse so that food doesn't get stuck in the socket.
Maintain oral hygiene. Make sure you brush for at least two minutes twice a day. Plaque and food that is left around may irritate the site.
Minimize chewing on that side. By using that side less while eating, you'll minimize the chances of food getting lodged into the stitches.
Your wisdom teeth stitches can indeed get infected just like anything else in the mouth. It isn't immune to infection just like how piercings in your mouth can get infected as well.
The tell tale sign for an infection is if you see the presence of pus. That is a white fluid and is pretty hard to miss. If you do see it then you most likely have an infection.
What you should do is contact your dentist as soon as possible to have it treated. They'll need to clean it out and then put you on some antibiotics. It should clear up in no time.