Conditions,  Procedures,  Q&A

Why Am I Coughing After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!

Having wisdom teeth removed is a common oral surgery, but the post-operative symptoms can be concerning for many patients. Among these symptoms, coughing is not uncommon. This article will provide a detailed insight into why coughing can occur after wisdom teeth removal and what steps should be taken if you experience this symptom.

What is Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of molars that usually emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. For various reasons such as impaction, crowding, or risk of infection, wisdom teeth often need to be removed.
The removal of wisdom teeth is a surgical procedure that can involve cutting into the gums and sometimes removing a portion of the bone.

Why Am I Coughing After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

There are several reasons why one might experience coughing after having their wisdom teeth removed:

  1. Irritation of the Throat: The procedure often requires the use of tools in the mouth for an extended period. This can cause irritation to the throat, which may lead to coughing.
  2. Reaction to Anesthesia or Medication: Sometimes, the anesthesia or medications used during or after the surgery can cause a reaction that results in coughing. This could also be due to a mild allergic reaction.
  3. Blood or Fluids in the Throat: During the procedure, small amounts of blood or fluids may be inadvertently swallowed which can irritate the throat and trigger a cough.
  4. Breathing Tube Irritation: If general anesthesia was used, a breathing tube might have been placed during surgery. This can cause irritation in the throat and lead to coughing after the procedure.

Managing Coughing After Wisdom Teeth Removal

While coughing after wisdom teeth removal can be uncomfortable, there are steps that can be taken to alleviate the symptom:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drinking water can help soothe the throat and reduce coughing. However, avoid using a straw as this can disturb the blood clots forming in the extraction sites and lead to dry sockets, a painful condition.
  2. Use a Humidifier: Dry air can further irritate the throat. Using a humidifier can help keep the throat moist and reduce coughing.
  3. Lozenges and Cough Suppressants: Use throat lozenges or cough suppressants to alleviate coughing. However, it is advisable to consult the oral surgeon before using any over-the-counter medications.
  4. Avoid Coughing Violently: Try to avoid violent coughing as this can disturb the surgical sites. If you feel a cough coming on, try to keep your mouth closed and cough gently.

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

Coughing is generally not a cause for alarm and should subside within a few days. However, if the coughing is accompanied by difficulty breathing, high fever, severe pain, or if it continues for an extended period, it is important to contact a healthcare provider or the oral surgeon as these could be signs of an infection or an adverse reaction to medication.

Bottom Line

Coughing after wisdom teeth removal is a relatively common symptom that can be caused by throat irritation, a reaction to anesthesia or medication, or blood and fluids in the throat. It can typically be managed at home by staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and taking throat lozenges or cough suppressants with the consultation of a healthcare provider. However, if the coughing is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention.

This Q&A series article is complete and was published on August 5, 2023, and last updated on August 5, 2023.

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