What is wisdom teeth pain?

Your dentist may direct you to take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication to handle any ongoing discomfort. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can also help soothe your gums.
Your dentist may direct you to take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication to handle any ongoing discomfort. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can also help soothe your gums.

When your wisdom teeth come in, they do not always break through the gum line correctly. Teeth may start coming in at awkward angles. 

Sometimes a tooth stays inside of your jaw or does not fully emerge, with some of the gum line continuing to cover the top of the tooth. That condition is referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth

Some people have impacted teeth without any major issues, especially when the tooth is fully impacted. Others can experience agony when their wisdom teeth cause pain for a variety of reasons.

Main symptoms

An impacted wisdom tooth can sometimes start pushing on other teeth, causing problems with your bite. Partially impacted wisdom teeth can lead to complications that cause issues like:  

  • Food getting trapped around the wisdom tooth, giving bacteria a place to flourish
  • The positioning of the wisdom tooth making it harder for you to floss properly
  • Creating an opening for bacteria to get inside your gums and cause an infection
  • Causing crowding of or damage to nearby teeth
  • Causing a cyst to grow on or near the impacted tooth, leading to damage of the root  

You may find yourself experiencing a great deal of pain near your wisdom teeth as time progresses. It may come and go in a cycle, getting worse each time. 

Without treatment, a partially impacted tooth can lead to a number of issues, including:


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Main causes

You inherited your wisdom teeth from your ancient ancestors. They had larger jaws with enough room for more teeth than will fit in your mouth. 

Wisdom teeth typically appear in the back of your mouth at the end of each row of teeth. They usually do not fully develop until you are somewhere between the ages of 18 and 24 years. 

Who can get it?

Anyone who reaches adulthood can potentially experience wisdom teeth pain.

Most people do not have enough space in their mouths to accommodate these extra teeth. You might start experiencing wisdom tooth pain because of the crowding situation.

Diagnosis for wisdom teeth pain

Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose what is causing the pain associated with your wisdom teeth.

If your wisdom tooth pain continues to get worse, it is a good idea to visit a dentist. They can examine your mouth and find out what is causing the issue. The dentist will often detect the presence of a partially impacted wisdom tooth by looking inside your mouth. 

Dentists typically order x-rays to confirm the reason for your wisdom tooth pain. That allows them to view the root's position and whether there is room for your tooth to come in correctly. They will use the findings to decide on the best course of treatment for your wisdom tooth pain.

Treatments for wisdom teeth pain

If the dentist feels that your wisdom tooth will not cause further complications, they may decide to leave it alone. Your dentist may direct you to take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication to handle any ongoing discomfort. 

Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help soothe your gums. 

When it comes to wisdom teeth that are causing problems in your mouth, your dentist may decide that you need to have them pulled if:

  • It’s clear that the teeth will now grow in incorrectly
  • There is not enough space for the wisdom teeth to fit
  • The wisdom teeth are causing a great deal of pain and discomfort
  • The wisdom teeth are only partially coming through the gum line
  • There is decay present on the wisdom teeth

It’s possible to have your wisdom teeth removed in an outpatient setting like an oral surgeon’s office with the aid of a local anesthetic. The difficulty of removing your wisdom teeth depends on the state of the tooth based on dental x-rays.

Your upper wisdom teeth may be easier to remove since those in your lower jaw have a greater chance of being impacted. Your dentist will decide on the best place to have your wisdom teeth removed. 

They may decide that it’s ok to perform the procedure in the dentist’s office or refer you to an outpatient hospital setting.


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Complications from treating wisdom teeth pain

Most people undergo wisdom tooth removal without issues. However, there is always a risk when it comes to performing any surgery. There have been cases where people end up with numbness in their lips after having a lower tooth removed. 

You may also experience swelling and pain for a few days after your surgery. You should follow the doctor’s recommendations, including:  

  • Take pain reducing medication only as prescribed
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol
  • Do not use a straw when consuming a beverage  

Your dentist will likely want to see you a week or so after removing your wisdom teeth to make sure you are healing properly. They typically remove any remaining stitches at that time

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Medically Reviewed on 2/18/2021
InformedHealth.org: “Wisdom teeth: Overview.”

Nottingham University Hospitals: “Tooth impaction.”

Oral Health Foundation: “Wisdom teeth.”