There's always a small risk of complications during and after any medical or dental procedure. A two-part study published in the Swiss Dental Journal found that complications occurred in about 8 percent of cases of wisdom tooth removal.
One of the most common complications was dry socket, which made up half of the complications for patients who had wisdom teeth removed from the lower jaw. Dry socket was less common for wisdom tooth extractions from the upper jaw, affecting only 0.4 percent of cases, according to part two of the Swiss Dental Journal study. Dry socket develops when the blood clot that formed in the space that once held the tooth becomes loose or breaks away from the socket. This exposes the underlying bone and nerves in the area, which can cause considerable discomfort.
As a letter published in the British Dental Journal notes, dry socket may be confused with infection of the socket after tooth extraction. While it is rare for a dry socket to become infected, your dental professional usually prescribes antibiotics prior to wisdom tooth extraction to prevent an infection from occurring after the surgery. Signs of an infection include fever and white or yellow discharge at the extraction site, according to the National Health Service (NHS). Contact your dental professional if you notice either of these symptoms.
Nerve damage is another uncommon complication of tooth extraction. The NHS notes that the trigeminal nerve (a cranial nerve that plays a role in your ability to chew) can be damaged during the extraction procedure, leading to symptoms such as numbness, tingling or pain in the lips, chin, gums, teeth and tongue. The NHS points out that the damage is usually temporary and that symptoms typically resolve as the nerve heals after a few weeks or months. When performing a tooth extraction, your dental professional will always take precautions to avoid potential nerve damage.