Wisdom Teeth - Pain

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Did your wisdom teeth or removal of your wisdom teeth cause pain?

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Do all wisdom teeth need to be extracted?

Not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted. When a wisdom tooth erupts cleanly through the tissue without compromising the adjacent tooth, the wisdom tooth can be retained in the mouth with little concern as long as the person is able to brush, floss, and clean it thoroughly. However, removal of the wisdom tooth is indicated if the tooth has partially erupted through the gingival tissue, causing inflammation and/or infection. A soft-tissue growth over a partially erupted wisdom tooth is referred to as an operculum. If bacteria become trapped under the operculum, an infection called pericoronitis can develop.

Pericoronitis is one of the most common indications for emergency extraction of a wisdom tooth and typically happens when there isn't enough room for all of the teeth in the lower jaw. The symptoms of this infection are red, inflamed gum tissue behind the last visible molar, bad taste/smell, pain with biting on back teeth, and sometimes pus oozing and draining from the area. Occasionally the infection will lead to swelling of the gum tissue, cheek, or other area around the affected side of the jaw.

The wisdom tooth can also erupt at an angle such that the adjacent molar can become difficult to keep clean and free of dental caries. Sometimes the position of the wisdom tooth will cause deep periodontal pockets or gum recession around the adjacent tooth, and should be removed before too much damage is caused to the much more critical second molars. If the third molar has erupted through the tissue but is without opposing occlusion (contact with other teeth), extraction should still be considered. Considering the posterior position of an erupted wisdom tooth, these teeth are often difficult to keep clean.

Sometimes the wisdom teeth cause pain, but a person can avoid extracting them with a few modifications of the surrounding tissues or oral hygiene habits. If there is a small flap of tissue barely covering the back of the tooth, a person may have pain from biting down on that gum tissue. If there is otherwise enough room for the wisdom tooth, the gum tissue can be removed from the back of the tooth to remedy this problem. Changing the angle of tooth brushing and increasing the frequency of flossing both in front and behind the wisdom teeth can help keep the gum tissues healthy and avoid the potential of painful gingivitis or infection around the wisdom teeth. The condition of the wisdom teeth will change a lot between the ages of 16 and 23; it is imperative that wisdom teeth are examined regularly by a dental professional to determine the proper diagnosis and course of action in this age group.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: suzie43, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 15

It's been 2 days since I had my bottom right wisdom tooth removed as well as the one in front of it. It was so impacted that the surgeon used a drill. It was so quick that I couldn't believe that it was done (even under general anesthesia); until I got home. My face is swollen and I do believe that I have some nerve damage. I have pain reaching up to my ears, I hope it doesn't get any worse but it sure seems like it's not getting any better. I don't want to get hooked on the pain medication. I have to wait and see what happens.

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Comment from: leggy, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 08

I got 2 wisdom teeth removed in the chair yesterday. Procedure itself was relatively painless, but since local anesthesia wore off, I have been in a lot of pain. I got minor swelling, but struggle to open my mouth for food, and talking is a problem. Just hoping the next few days calm things down.

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