How to Tell if Your Wisdom Teeth Stitches Are Infected

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Your mouth is full of bacteria and that includes the good ones and the bad ones. There are times when the bad bacteria overpower the good ones and that results in an infection in your mouth. Collateral damage can spread to the teeth, gums, and even wisdom teeth stitches.

cartoon drawing of stitches in mouth
Credit: Oceandental

Yes, that means despite having the wisdom teeth extracted, the stitches can still develop an infection if you do not take care of them properly. Unfortunately if it happens, you will need to return to your dentist to have it treated.

Without further ado, let’s go over some signs to look out for in regards to this condition.

Signs of infected wisdom teeth stitches

Until you get diagnosed by your dentist, you won’t truly know if the sutures are infected or not. However here are some signs and symptoms which may hint at returning for a follow up appointment sooner rather than later.

Signs of infected wisdom teeth stitches include:

  • Pain. An increasing amount of pain that extends beyond the third day after the extraction. Pain after an extraction should peak around that point but start declining. That is how long it should last normally.
  • Swelling. It is normal to expect swelling after the procedure but if it does not seem to dissipate, something has gone wrong. Normally, the facial swelling should subside significantly after the second day.
  • Pus. If you see white pus ooze out of the wisdom tooth hole, that is a tell-tale sign of an infection. Purulence or bad tasting drainage is literally made up of dead bacteria and white blood cells. Your body’s immune system is battling it out in the stitched up tooth socket.
  • Blood. The surgical site bleeds beyond the second or third day. What we’re talking about is more than a few specks of red.
  • Erythema. The entire wisdom tooth socket looks poofy red like it is inflamed.
  • Bad taste in mouth. Despite brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing, do you get a bad taste in your mouth? Yes, it’s supposed to taste a little bit like iron from the blood but if you get a taste other than that, it could be a sign.
  • Fever. Is your forehead heading up and you’re feeling chills after the wisdom tooth removal? Your body is most likely trying to fight off an infection by raising the temperature.

If you see, feel, or suspect any of the above symptoms, you should contact your dentist or oral surgeon promptly.

Treatment for infected third molar sutures

If the stitches are truly infected, you will need to return to your dentist to have it treated. There is no home remedy which can fix this problem. Even if you manage to remove the sutures by yourself, how are you going to clean out the infection? You can’t.

Potential treatments:

  • Removed infected sutures. Your dentist will need to get rid of the infected sutures in the wisdom tooth hole. Leaving it in will only make it worse. The removal process should be quick but you will need additional treatment as well. There is a chance you may need new sutures put in.
  • Curettage and irrigation. Typically it’ll be more than just the stitches being infected because the entire socket is usually involved. The inside of the socket along with the gums will need to be curetted and cleaned out. After that the entire surgical site will need to be flushed out with an antibiotic wash.
  • Antibiotics. You should expect to be put on antibiotics after the entire ordeal has been completed. If you were already taking an antibiotic after the extraction, you may need to be switched to a different one or stronger one. You’ll most likely be given a prescription for an antibiotic mouthwash to use as well.

As for what to expect, the procedure shouldn’t be painful because you will be thoroughly numb for it all. Therefore you should expect to get some numbing gel followed by local anesthetic via an injection.


It’s not enough to just get treatment at the dentist, you will need to follow all of the stitches aftercare that comes with it. If you don’t it may get reinfected once again.

  • Salt water rinse. Rinsing frequently with salt water can help keep the area clean and prevent infections.
  • Brushing and flossing. Despite the area being sore/tender from the wisdom tooth removal, you do need to keep it clean. Make sure you brush and floss like you usually do.
  • Take your medications. Be sure to take all medications as prescribed. This will include pain relievers as well as the antibiotics.
  • Do not touch them with your bare hands. Some people get curious and try to play around with the stitches with their bare hands. Please do not do that because your hands could be dirty or it can transfer bacteria to them.

Following all of these best practice tips will help prevent it from happening again.


Wisdom teeth stitches can get infected if you do not take care of them as instructed. There isn’t really so much separate instructions for them since they’re mostly the same as wisdom teeth removal aftercare. Be sure to review all of it so that you can prevent it from happening to you.

However if it has already happened, you should contact your provider as soon as possible to have it treated. It won’t go away on its own so prepare yourself for an additional trip to the dentist.


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