Impacted wisdom teeth are molars at the backside of your mouth that do not have adequate room to come out or grow usually. Wisdom teeth are the final adult teeth to emerge into the mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth at the backside of the mouth, two on the top and two on the bottom. Impacted wisdom tooth pain symptoms can cause injury to other teeth and result in several dental problems. In a few cases, impacted wisdom teeth can cause no evident or instant problems. But as they are hard to clean, they can be more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay than other teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth that lead to pain or other dental complications are removed. Some dentists also suggest removing impacted wisdom teeth that do not cause symptoms to stop future issues.
Table of Contents
Common wisdom tooth pain symptoms
Impacted wisdom teeth do not always cause symptoms. But, when an impacted wisdom tooth becomes contaminated, you might experience some of these wisdom tooth pain symptoms:
- Bleeding or tender gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Swelling near the jaw
- Jaw pain
- Bad breath
- Problem opening your mouth
- A disagreeable taste in your mouth
Consult with a dentist if you experience symptoms in the back of your last molar that might be related to an impacted wisdom tooth.
Common causes of pain
Wisdom teeth become impacted as they do not have adequate room to erupt or develop normally. Wisdom teeth typically come out sometime between the ages of 17 and 25. Few individuals have wisdom teeth that come out without any issues and line up with the other teeth at the back of the second molars. In most cases, however, the mouth is too filled for third molars to grow normally. These third molars become trapped in the gums. An impacted wisdom tooth can emerge partially so that some of the crowns are noticeable, or it may never break through the gums. Whether fully or partially impacted, the tooth may:
- Grow at a position toward the backside of the mouth
- Develop at an angle toward the next tooth
- Develop straight up or down like other teeth but stay trapped in the jawbone
- Develop at a right angle as if the wisdom tooth is “resting” in the jawbone
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a number of problems in the mouth:
- Cysts. The wisdom tooth develops in a sac in the jawbone. The sac includes fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the nerves, teeth and jawbone. Rarely, a tumor usually noncancerous develops. This complication might necessitate removal of bone and tissue.
- Damage to other teeth. If the wisdom tooth thrusts against the second molar, it can damage the second molar or enhance the risk of infection in that area. This pressure can also cause issues with crowding of the other teeth or necessitate orthodontic treatment to flatten other teeth.
- Gum disease. The problem in cleaning partially erupted, impacted wisdom teeth enhances the risk of developing an inflammatory, painful gum condition known as pericoronitis.
- Decay. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are at higher risk of tooth decay than other teeth. This probably occurs as wisdom teeth are harder to clean and because bacteria and food get easily entrapped between a partially erupted tooth and the gum.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause aches, pain, and tenderness. Eventually, eliminating the wisdom teeth can help fix these problems. In the meanwhile, there are a number of over-the-counter medical treatments and natural home remedies available.
This is an over-the-counter pain relief medication that helps lessen inflammation. Taking the prescribed dose on the packet can help alleviate pain. It can also decrease inflammation of the gums related to wisdom teeth development. Ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can offer effective pain management until a person can see a dentist for treatment.
It can help reduce the feeling of pain in the gums and numb the area. These gels are available over the counter and contain the active ingredient benzocaine. Maximum dental gels can be applied to the affected gums directly all through the day. But, it is essential for a person to follow the instructions mentioned in the product.
Saltwater has natural disinfectant properties and can help reduce bacteria. At times, an upsurge of bacteria in the broken gums in the region of wisdom teeth can lead to pain. Rinsing with salt water can help treat the infection and decrease discomfort. To make the saltwater rinse, add a few tablespoons of salt into a glass of freshly boiled water. When the water has cooled a bit, it can be swirled near the mouth for a few minutes, then spit out. You can rinse your mouth with salt water two or three times a day, or until the pain starts to decrease.
Applying an ice pack to the jaw can assist decrease inflammation, which in turn can alleviate pain. Using ice can also have a numbing effect. You can hold an ice pack with a tea towel against the jaw for 15 minutes. The ice pack can be applied with 15-minute breaks until the pain has reduced.
Tannins in tea bags have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Tea bags can reduce puffiness and combat bacterial infections. To utilize tea bags as a home remedy, an individual must make a cup of tea and put the cup in the fridge with the tea bag left in it. Once the tea is chilled, the tea bag can be taken out and placed within the mouth where the pain is located.
Cloves act as a topical pain reliever because of their numbing effect. Whole clove or clove oil can be used. If using a whole clove
- place the clove on the wisdom tooth that is causing pain
- hold it in position by closing jaw, but do not chew
- leave it there until the pain subsides and then spit it out
If using clove oil
- put some drops of clove oil on cotton
- put the cotton on the wisdom tooth that is paining
- hold the cotton in place until the pain subsides and then remove it
In a few cases, home remedies might not ease the pain of a wisdom tooth. The tooth can be removed by a dentist or a dental surgeon. A local anesthetic is injected into the affected area to numb the surgical pain. Small incisions are made around the tooth, and the wisdom tooth can be cut into tiny pieces prior to removal. The process is a short one that usually takes only a few minutes but can last up to 45 minutes and at times more.
Most individuals have little to no pain after the surgical procedure. You will likely have puffiness and mild pain for a few days. Your mouth might need a couple of weeks to heal completely.
Some tips to follow for the first three days after the surgery:
- Use moist heat for a sore jaw.
- Use an ice pack to control swelling or skin color changes.
- Gently open and close your mouth to keep your jaw fit.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Eat soft foods like soup, rice, or pasta.
- Start brushing your teeth from the second day after the procedure. Do not brush on any blood clots.
- Call your doctor if you have fever, or if your swelling or pain does not improve.
- Take the medications your doctor recommends to ease pain or swelling.
Avoid doing the following things
- Avoid drinking through a straw. Sucking can loosen blood clots that assist your mouth heal.
- Avoid rinsing your mouth harshly. Your doctor can recommend rinsing the mouth gently with saltwater.
- Do not eat crunchy, hard, or sticky foods that may scratch your wounds like nuts, cheese, icecream, chocolates, pastries, fries, chips, and sugary foods etc.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol as smoking or drinking can slow your healing.
When an individual’s wisdom teeth are coming through, there are practical things they can do to make it less likely that their gums become contaminated. These are:
- Stay away from foods that contain sugar: These foods can get trapped within the broken gums, encouraging bacteria to develop.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush teeth twice a day, floss, and use mouthwash to reduce the bacteria in the mouth that cause infections.
- Drink lots of water: This helps to flush bacteria away from the gums and teeth.
You cannot prevent wisdom tooth pain symptoms from occurring, but keeping dental appointments for checkups and cleaning allows your dentist to monitor the growth and coming out of your wisdom teeth. Dental x-rays that are updated regularly may indicate impacted wisdom teeth prior to any symptoms develop.