Can bacteria from my wisdom teeth affect my overall health?

You may have heard the phrase “a healthy mouth is the gateway to a healthy body,” and the wisdom teeth certainly support that idea. When patients have issues with their wisdom teeth, they can have ripple effects throughout the body.

An impacted wisdom tooth is prone to collecting bacteria due to its location at the rear of the mouth, which is impossible to access with a toothbrush and floss. As a result, impacted wisdom teeth are particularly susceptible to harboring bacterial collections chronically and to abscesses, which are infections that reach the tooth’s inner core. 

An impacted wisdom tooth is prone to collecting bacteria due to its location at the rear of the mouth, which is impossible to access with a toothbrush and floss. 

For this reason, an impacted wisdom tooth has the strong potential to impact your systemic health. The surrounding gums and the tooth’s inner core has a direct link to the bloodstream, which essentially gives oral bacteria a “highway” to spread throughout the body.   These bacteria cause an inflammatory response throughout the vasculature and in end organs.  Links to Alzheimer’s, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and low fetal birth weights have been established with oral bacterial invasion.  At the very least, this process may cause mild symptoms like a slight fever, chills or aches. If infection is not caught in time, and develops out of control, a very serious condition known as sepsis may develop.

As a preventive measure against such an outcome, many patients choose to have an oral surgeon remove their wisdom teeth before they become problematic. Waiting until symptoms develop can complicate the surgical procedure, especially if an infection is already present in the wisdom teeth.

General oral surgery guidelines recommend that patients have their wisdom teeth removed before they reach their mid-twenties. The surgery is less complex in younger patients, whose roots are not as entrenched in the bone, and younger patients tend to recover more quickly.

Wisdom teeth extraction is a routine procedure, and generally involves minimal discomfort for patients, who often choose sedation for a more comfortable experience. Be sure to discuss any pre-operative and post-operative instructions thoroughly with your oral surgeon so that you can take all necessary steps to decrease your chances of post-operative complications.

Infected wisdom teeth and the bacteria they harbor can have serious consequences throughout the body. Contact the ORA office of the wisdom tooth expert, Drs. Steven Koos DDS, MD to discuss your options.