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Wisdom teeth pain

Last Updated: 2.09.2023

Author: George Ghidrai, MD  

Oral pain can have a number of causes, such as tooth decay, pulp infections, tooth fractures or a dental abscess (among others). If you still have your wisdom teeth, it is possible you are experiencing wisdom teeth pain.

No matter what the cause, the best thing is to see your dentist when you experience oral pain.

Why do wisdom teeth cause problems ?

Normally, adults can have a maximum of 32 teeth. The wisdom teeth or the third molars are the rearmost teeth and they are the last teeth to appear, breaking through usually between the ages of 17 and 25; sometimes they appear many years later.

There are four wisdom teeth: a set of two (right and left) on the bottom as well as the top.

molar teeth molar teeth molar teeth

Nowadays, many people have jaws that are too small for all 32 teeth. Therefore, if all the other teeth are present and healthy there may not be enough space for the wisdom teeth to come through properly.

If there is not enough room, the wisdom tooth may try to come through but will get stuck against the tooth in front of it. When a wisdom tooth is prevented from emerging by the jaw bone or other teeth, it is described as impacted.

impacted wisdom tooth

Another problem with wisdom teeth is that they often grow in crooked, sideways, or otherwise misaligned. As they grow in, they can push on other teeth, causing problems with overcrowding and misalignment for these teeth.

Do wisdom teeth always cause problems ?

If there is enough room, they will usually come through into a useful position and cause no more problems than any other tooth. Often, there will be some slight discomfort as they come through, but this is only temporary and will disappear once the tooth is fully in position.

What about wisdom teeth pain ?

Sometimes, as the wisdom teeth come in, they can be very painful. If part of the wisdom tooth has appeared through the gum and part of it is still covered, the gum may become sore and perhaps swollen.

wisdom tooth pain

Food particles and bacteria can collect under the gum edge, and, as the area is difficult to clean effectively, they can cause decays and gum infections. This condition is called pericoronitis.

Signs and symptoms

Wisdom teeth pain is normally felt at the back of the mouth, behind molars. Sometimes, you may even notice that your wisdom teeth have begun to poke through your gums.

The area might also be red, inflamed and tender to the touch. Wisdom teeth pain can be constant for some people, while other people only experience pain and discomfort when chewing food or touching the area. Some people may find it difficult to open their mouth.

What can I do ?

These measures may temporarily relieve the pain. However, your dentist should examine the tooth and decide whether further treatment is necessary. This is especially important if the pain does not go away or if you find it difficult to open your mouth.

What are the treatment options ?

Your dentist may clean around the tooth very thoroughly, and an antibiotic may be prescribed. The practitioner will usually take x-rays to see the position of the root and to assess whether there is room for the tooth to come through into a useful position.

If the tooth has enough room to come through, the pain and discomfort should disappear once the tooth is in position.

However, when it is clear that the tooth will not be able to come through into a useful position, most dental professionals will advise that the wisdom tooth should be removed.

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