Why Are Wisdom Teeth Painful?

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Painful wisdom teeth are usually a sign that you should have them assessed at by a dental professional. There are a few reasons as to why you may be experiencing pain in your wisdom teeth. In some circumstances you may need to have your wisdom teeth removed, or 'extracted,' whereas in other circumstances this may not be the case. However, your dentist will advise and guide you prior to any treatment or remedial actions.

Does It Hurt When Wisdom Teeth Grow? 

Many people have their wisdom teeth removed because there is simply no room for them to grow in without becoming impacted or shifting any of the other surrounding teeth. Dentists may refer to this as 'overcrowding.' Luckily, wisdom teeth don’t usually cause unnecessary pain unless there is something wrong or an underlying problem to be treated.

Why Are My Wisdom Teeth Hurting? 

There are many reasons why your wisdom teeth may be hurting and understanding the root cause can at times seem confusing. There are a number of reasons and potential underlying conditions to consider when looking at wisdom teeth and may be causing you unnecessary discomfort or pain:

  • Growing Pains: If you are experiencing pain in your wisdom teeth, it could be as simple as growing pains. When breaking through the gums, it can sometimes cause pain, slight swelling and soreness. This is very common 
  • Cavities: Wisdom teeth often grow very close to surrounding teeth due to the lack of space. This space (or lack thereof) makes it difficult to clean in between the affected teeth, making it a hotspot for forming cavities
  • Impacted Tooth: If a wisdom tooth becomes impacted (against other teeth) it can cause some swelling, pain when chewing or biting, pain in your jaw or difficulty opening your mouth. This is usually a sign of an impacted tooth
  • Cyst Development: When a wisdom tooth is impacted, cysts can sometimes form at the impacted tooth’s follicle causing pain and damage in the tooth and jawbone 
  • Gum Disease: Gum disease is sometimes more likely to form on wisdom teeth because of how far back in the mouth they grow, as well as the fact that they’re hard to clean

When Do Wisdom Teeth Start Growing? 

Wisdom teeth (third molars) become impacted because they don’t have enough room to come in normally. Wisdom teeth usually emerge sometime between the ages of 17 and 25. Some people have wisdom teeth that emerge without any problems and line up with other teeth behind the second molars.

In many cases, the mouth is too crowded for third molars to develop molars and they become fully impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth may partially emerge so that some of the crown is visible (partially impacted) or it may never break through the gums (fully impacted).

Are My Wisdom Teeth Impacted? 

Impacted wisdom teeth can usually be attended to quickly and removed before further complications arise. However, if you are currently experiencing wisdom tooth pain and believe they are impacted, there are some signs and symptoms to look out for. 

A Fully Impacted Wisdom Tooth May:

  • Grow at an angle toward the next tooth (second molar)
  • Grow at an angle toward the back of the mouth
  • Grow at a right angle to the other teeth, as if the wisdom is “laying down” within the jawbone
  • Grow straight up or down like other teeth but stay trapped within the jawbone

Symptoms of Fully Impacted Wisdom Teeth:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth Dangerous? 

In most cases, impacted wisdom teeth can be caught quickly and removed. However, if left untreated impacted wisdom teeth can cause further long-term health issues. You should however, always remember that by seeing a dentist or dental professional as soon as you can, you are more likely to be able to treat and alleviate the underlying issue or issues causing you pain and discomfort when it comes to wisdom teeth and oral hygiene in general.

Complications of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause complications in the mouth and cause further damage to the surrounding healthy teeth if left untreated. Complications may include: 

  • Damage to Surrounding Teeth: If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it may damage the second molar or increase the risk of infection in that area. This can also cause problems with crowding of the other teeth or require treatment to straighten other teeth
  • Cysts: The wisdom tooth develops within the jawbone, in a sac. The sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the jawbone, teeth and nerves. Rarely, a tumour (usually benign) develops. This complication may require removal of tissue and bone
  • Decay: Partially impacted wisdom teeth appear to be at higher risk of tooth decay than others. This probably occurs because wisdom teeth are harder to clean
  • Gum Disease: The difficulty cleaning even partially impacted wisdom teeth increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis

Should I Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed? 

Preventing wisdom teeth from impacting not always impossible. Maintaining good dental health as well as regular dental appointments for cleaning and check-ups enables you and your dentist to monitor the growth and progress of your wisdom teeth and they will be able to spot the early warning signs that your wisdom teeth may need removing. 

Meanwhile, if you do not regularly visit the dentist then it is highly recommended you do if you’re experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth. Getting them removed will prevent long-term dental health issues

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