Osteomyelitis after wisdom tooth extraction
I am posting because my daughter developed osteomyelitis in her lower jaw after having her wisdom teeth out back in August. It's a frightening diagnosis and searching the web on the term is not very comforting. I came across several posts here on health boards at the time, and I'd like to let people know that this condition can be treated successfully. Here is our story:
On August 1, my 18-year old daughter had her four wisdom teeth extracted on the recommendation of her orthodontist (I wish we never did it). She took clindamycin for 7 days afterward (she is allergic to penicillin). The swelling on the right side didn't fully go away, and just before she was supposed to leave for college, the swelling started to get worse (around August 23). We returned to the oral surgeon, who acted like it was no big deal. He gave her a 10-day prescription for more clindamycin and we sent her off to college. The pain and swelling did not improve, so we brought her back home on Labor Day weekend and she had a "debridement" on September 5. The oral surgeon prescribed clindamycin for another two weeks and indicated she would be fine in a few days. This was not the case. The pain and swelling from this surgery was significant, and the right side of her lower lip had become numb. However, after two weeks on antibiotics she was doing better and we brought her back to college. Unfortunately, a few days after she stopped the antibiotics, the swelling came back. I called her oral surgeon and he wanted to prescribe more clindamycin. I questioned whether we should try a different antibiotic and he prescribed erythromycin, but seemed unsure. At this point I took her to an oral surgeon at University of Rochester Medical Center. They teach oral surgery there and I found a doctor who had recently published on oral infections. Instead of erythromycin, he prescribed avelox, a newer antibiotic, and said if it wasn't significantly better in 3-4 days, he would need to open it up again. It was not better, so he opened it up and discovered that the infection had gone into her jawbone and made a hole all the way through it. He scraped out the dead bone and the recovery from this surgery took a long time. She ended up taking avelox for a total of 7 weeks. The doctor saw her 1-2 times a week for that time period, took several x-rays and ordered a CT scan and MRI. We did not stop the antibiotic until after the MRI, which showed no signs of active infection.
It was a long haul with lots of pain and swelling along the way, and sometimes I think the swelling was harder on her than the pain because of the way it altered her appearance (very difficult for an 18-year old girl). She wasn't able to complete the semester, but is doing well now and looking forward to returning in the spring. There is still some pain and we saw a neurologist who said there is nerve damage that will take time to heal (happily, the numbness in her lip recently went away). This whole experience has been very difficult and at times I was absolutely terrified, but if you are out there going through the same thing, know that this condition can be effectively treated.
Last edited by Administrator; 12-28-2012 at 12:27 PM.