Wisdom teeth are a set of four extra molars that emerge later in life, usually around 17 and 25, with one wisdom tooth for each of the back four corners, behind the second molars. These permanent teeth are also called third molars.
Not everyone has them emerge; some people have none of them appear, while others have less than the full four come in.
Many people experience wisdom tooth pain as they start to grow.
What Are Signs of Wisdom Teeth Coming In?
One of the first, and most common, signs that wisdom teeth are emerging is pain. People often experience wisdom tooth pain as jaw pain and painful gums which are swollen or bleeding, behind the second molars. There may be difficulty opening the mouth very far. The pain often starts as a dull ache but can become an ongoing, sharper, stronger pain.
A bad taste or bad breath may also be a symptom.
What Causes Wisdom Tooth Pain While Growing In?
The pain often arises when the teeth are just starting to poke through the gums. There can be an area of gum remaining over the top concave surface of the tooth before it has fully come through, which can be sore and difficult to keep clean. The gum can get trapped between teeth or aggravated by other things in the mouth, leading to more pain. The difficulty in keeping it clean can cause swelling, inflammation, and increased pain if it starts to become infected.
How Long Will This Pain Last?
If there are no complications these painful bouts usually only last seven to ten days, and pain can be managed with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Wisdom teeth can take a year, or even several years to fully emerge; discomfort can be expected during this period.
Although there are people who have wisdom teeth that develop with no problems or spacing issues, for many people, the wisdom teeth do not have enough room and create crowding issues.
Wisdom Tooth Pain Relief
Keep the gums as clean as possible to prevent particles of food and bacteria from accumulating around the tooth, causing infection.
Regularly rinse the gums with warm salt water or mouthwash and use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to keep the tooth and gums0 clean. Partially closing your mouth, and relaxing the cheek and jaw muscles, while brushing will make it easier, and you will be able to reach the wisdom teeth better.
Avoid hard, crunchy, or sharp foods to be gentler on the biting surfaces of these teeth.
Painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help but never exceed recommended doses. If pain worsens or does not ease with normal doses, or if pain continues for an extended time, you should see a dentist.
What Complications Can Arise?
For those people whose mouths don’t have enough space for wisdom teeth, the teeth can come in at an angle that pushes against the other teeth and shift over other teeth as they grow in. or may not be able to come out fully. In these cases, they are called impacted wisdom teeth. A wisdom tooth may also become partially impacted, not fully emerging from the gum line, or grow backward at an angle, away from teeth. These are at higher risk for cysts, gum disease, and tooth decay. They may also grow horizontally, lying flat underneath gums, or may be vertically, but remain stuck within the jaw bone.
Impacted Wisdom Tooth Pain
Impacted teeth shifting over other teeth often cause pain. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are prone to food particles and bacteria getting trapped around them, causing chronic gum infections and soreness as well.
Pain caused by complications with impacted wisdom teeth will continue until a dentist addresses the issue; often a wisdom tooth extraction procedure is necessary.
Even if your wisdom teeth are hurting currently, it doesn’t mean they won’t cause pain or problems in the future. Regular checkups and x-rays can also identify more proactively if wisdom teeth will become impacted before they start hurting.
Wisdom tooth pain arising from complications will not go away on its own. Having your wisdom teeth removed may hurt for a short while, but it will hurt less in the long run and is more ideal than facing ongoing pain and other dental concerns from leaving the teeth. Leaving them untreated can result in serious complications.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom teeth extractions are usually recommended for impacted or partially-impacted wisdom teeth, especially if there are pain symptoms.
The most common reasons for extractions are if the wisdom teeth put pressure on other teeth and force them into misalignment, or if the wisdom teeth are crooked and may damage other teeth. The issue of chronic gum infections from a wisdom tooth that can only partially emerge is another reason for extraction. If a tooth is partially impacted and decayed, or if cysts have formed around it, which are risk factors for the bone and roots around to become damaged, it will also be removed.
How Long Does Wisdom Tooth Pain Last After Extraction?
There will be some soreness and discomfort after removal; the degree will depend on how difficult it was to remove the teeth. There will also be swelling for a few days. Your dentist will explain any other symptoms to watch out for, and how to care for the extraction site afterward. You will need to keep the area clean and avoid eating and drinking on that side of your mouth. Gentle rinses with salt water are usually recommended, and you won’t be able to brush for that first day or so. Following your dentist’s care guidelines will minimize swelling and risks of further complications.
The pain will be at its highest for a few days, but then become more moderate, gradually decreasing over time. After about two to four weeks, the socket will heal and there should be no pain. The bone underneath may take six months to heal.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Pain Relief
After having wisdom teeth removed, you may be given a prescription for pain medication for the initial period after the surgery. Cold compresses reduce swelling and soreness related to excessive swelling.
After the initial few days, the pain is usually more moderate, although you may take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for wisdom tooth pain relief. Very soft foods are recommended until the areas have healed or the stitches are out.
If pain or swelling increases, contact your dentist. There is an unlikely possibility of infection. If you notice throbbing pain for longer than the first few days, increased swelling, especially around the gums, jaw, or gland area, or bleeding doesn’t cease, even with pressure, contact your dentist right away. Other signs are a fever, a bad taste, or bad breath.
Wisdom Tooth Pain - Key Points
While third molars are growing in, there may be periods of aching or tenderness that last until they have come in fully. This can last a year or so.
If you experience more consistent, severe pain, it may be a sign you are impacted or partially impacted. Wisdom teeth removal is almost always needed in these cases. While you may be nervous about the pain associated with a wisdom tooth removal, wisdom teeth extractions are necessary in cases where there are complications, and, afterward, you will be pain-free.
Contact Us For Any Concerns About Wisdom Tooth Pain
Century Stone Dental are caring professionals who will answer all of your questions. We offer a range of general and comprehensive dental services, including oral surgery services and wisdom teeth removal, so you can have all your care in one place that knows you.