Wisdom tooth pain

What is wisdom tooth pain?

Typically, we have four wisdom teeth, however this can vary from person to person. Usually, one is grown on the top and bottom for both the right and left sides of the mouth. Typically, they erupt from the gums between the ages of 18 and 24, but sometimes they do not come through the gums at all - and they can also get stuck beneath the gum and by your molars.

What causes wisdom tooth pain?

Wisdom tooth pain is caused by the growth of the teeth from the gums however, other factors can play a part:
  • The movement of the wisdom teeth, the displacement of the gums and the surrounding teeth.
  • Due to the positioning of the wisdom teeth, they can be harder to clean which can cause infection if bacteria accumulates and plaque builds up.
  • Gum disease can become a symptom of wisdom teeth improperly growing.
  • Infection under the gums, such as an abscess or an untreated impacted wisdom tooth.
  • Decay in the tooth or surrounding teeth.
  • Cysts can form.

How to prevent wisdom tooth pain?

Wisdom teeth are genetic and cannot be prevented, and typically your dentist will not recommend removing them until they are above the gum line. However, if there is a need to remove them due to infection, damage to neighbouring teeth, severe pain, or decay/gum disease, then your dentist might pursue removal.
  • Cleaning the mouth to the best of your ability, flossing, and brushing for no less than two minutes will decrease the chances of infection. Single tufted brushes are especially useful to clean around wisdom teeth. Using a mouthwash at a different time to brushing, is important in keeping the area clean.
  • Taking ibuprofen, paracetamol or using a numbing gel, which can all be bought over the counter.
  • Attending regular appointments with your dentist every 6-12 months.

How to treat wisdom tooth pain?

Treatment for wisdom tooth pain varies depending on the circumstance. Naturally, the mouth will feel pain when a wisdom tooth grows, using pain relief where possible will help provide some comfort. Saltwater or mouthwashes can be used to reduce the bacteria in the mouth and provide some relief.

In some cases the gum overlying the wisdom tooth may need removing if you are consistently getting food trapped (operculectomy), or your dentist may suggest removing the wisdom tooth altogether. There are risks in removing wisdom teeth, due to their complex anatomy and position in relation to structures like the nerves which supply your jaws, hence your dentist will only consider extracting wisdom teeth if necessary.

How to spot wisdom tooth pain/symptoms?

Usually, wisdom tooth pain will present itself as a dull ache or sharp pain in the back of the mouth, and this pain can spread to the jaw, neck, and ears. You may have pain on opening your mouth and be limited in how far you can open.  It can cause headaches, the gums may swell, feel tender and appear pink or red.

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