Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to emerge, usually appearing in late adolescence to early adulthood. Since they arrive after our other teeth have already settled into place, people often experience pain, discomfort, swelling, and overcrowding when their wisdom teeth begin to grow in.
If you have pain associated with your wisdom teeth, there are many home treatments that can help reduce pain and swelling. In some cases, this will be enough and your wisdom teeth will be able to grow in normally. However, many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common dental surgeries, and it is often the only way to completely alleviate discomfort.
What Causes Wisdom Tooth Pain?
Pain from wisdom teeth can occur for a variety of reasons. They might grow in crooked, or push on your other teeth if there is not enough space in your mouth. You could have an infection in the surrounding gum tissue, or it may simply hurt when the tooth begins to push through the gum.
Pain can arrive suddenly and acutely overnight, or it may grow slowly and gradually over time. In this case, it is not uncommon to mistake wisdom tooth pain for something else, such as a toothache or gum irritation.
If your wisdom teeth do not have enough room to grow properly, they can become impacted. An impacted tooth does not fully erupt into the mouth. Instead, the tooth might grow in sideways or at the wrong angle, or press into your other teeth. This can cause pain, and even damage the neighboring teeth.
Home Remedies for Pain
There are various ways to temporarily reduce and alleviate pain and inflammation. In some cases, your wisdom teeth may eventually grow in properly, but they should still be monitored yearly by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
- Use an ice pack: Applying an ice pack to the jaw can reduce swelling. Wrap ice or a cold pack in a washcloth, and apply to the painful area for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Numbing gel: You can purchase a numbing gel that contains benzocaine either online or over the counter at a pharmacy. Apply the gel to the affected area to reduce swelling and pain.
- Salt water: Rinsing with a salt water mixture can help dislodge bacteria and food particles that may be causing or aggravating an infection.
- Over-the-counter pain medicines: Ibuprofen will reduce pain, as well as swelling and inflammation. Tylenol can help with pain, but does not combat inflammation.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
Today, wisdom tooth extraction is fairly routine. For many people, complete removal is the only way to entirely eliminate pain from an impacted tooth. The surgery normally takes less than an hour and you are usually sedated comfortably for the procedure.
After surgery, taking 1-2 days off from work or school is recommended, and most people fully recover in less than one week. Your surgeon will explain the risks and benefits of having your wisdom teeth removed.
Ready to Get Started?
With five locations in Oklahoma, OMA provides a full range of simple and complex oral and maxillofacial surgical services. Contact the nearest location at 405-848-7994 (Oklahoma City), 405-292-8900 (Norman), 405-733-4296 (Midwest City), 405-341-4022 (Edmond), or 405-751-3312 (Lakeside) to schedule your initial consultation.