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Oral Surgery/Cheek swollen 3 weeks after wisdom teeth extraction

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Question
I had my wisdom teeth (all 4, none impacted) taken out 3 weeks ago and yesterday I noticed my bottom right cheek was a little bit swollen along my jaw line but I'm in no pain. The thing is that I'm in college and can't get to the surgeon that took them out anytime soon. I have been taking ibuprofen every 6 hours. It sounds like I may have an infection. Is this something that will heal on it's own or do I have to go in and checked out?

Answer
Julia - It is not totally unknown to have infection or inflammation after the extraction of teeth, even not being impacted.  Bacteria and food can become trapped during the healing, percolates infection and produces the symptoms you describe.

My suggestion is that you immediately begin a strict regimen of warm salt water rinses ( a teaspoon of salt in glass of warm water)and rinse in the area of infection for about 3-4 minutes, 4-6 times a day.  The rinsing alone can often encourage drainage of the infected tissue.  It will take 3-5 days to see a significant change, but often after a single day you might notice a decrease of the swelling.  So be strict with yourself and do the rinsing and I think you should be fine.  If not after a week or so, you might need and antibiotic.  Then checking it out would be appropriate.  Try the rinsing first and I think you will be better soon.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.

Experience

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

Organizations
American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Education/Credentials
BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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