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Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain?

We all must have experienced that random sharp shooting pain in our jaw. It just starts hurting so severely without any warning, and also with no signs to stop. This pain makes eating a very difficult task. Even talking to someone feels like pinching your nerves.

But what is this pain? Why does this hurt so bad that we can’t execute basic tasks like eating or even talking? Is there any way to stop it or at least ease the pain?

1. Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain?

1.1 Story Behind the Name

Wisdom teeth, in all honesty, it does not add anything to your mind other than pain. But it is called so because they appear or grow at a much later age which is between 17 and 25, compared to our other teeth. Although it is uncommon, they can even appear after 30.

So at this age, we are much mature or wiser than a child. Hence, that’s why it is called ‘wisdom teeth’.

1.2 What Causes It to Grow?

According to researchers, our ancestors i.e. early men used to eat things that needed a stronger jaw to chew. So they used to have a larger jaw compared to today’s humans. Those kinds of jaws could easily accommodate the extra wisdom teeth.

But as our eating habits and cooking style changed, the structure of our jaw became smaller. Instead of eating raw meat, we started to chop and cook it to make it softer. Thus, it left us only with a limited space for the 32 teeth to fit in.

So whenever these wisdom teeth erupted, a dentist would advise you to remove them. As it doesn’t have any use in today’s chewing habits.

1.3 How Many Wisdom Teeth Are There in Total?

A man can have at least 4 wisdom teeth in his mouth. These teeth are located in the upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left corners. But some people can have less than or more than 4 wisdom teeth. It is said that there is one in a five chance that you can have less than 4 wisdom teeth.

On the other hand, according to current research, there is less than 5% population on the planet who have more than 4 wisdom teeth. Such extra teeth have a dental term called ‘supernumerary teeth’. Now let us understand how can these wisdom teeth grow.

1.4 Types of Growth

So there are actually three ways by which your wisdom teeth can grow.

1. At an angle that is towards the neighboring or nearby teeth.

2. At an angle that is towards the back of your mouth.

3. At a right angle towards the other teeth, this is the most painful one, as it starts to push the other teeth to grow out.

4. It can also grow normally like other teeth.

2. Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth

Now after understanding can wisdom teeth cause jaw pain and if yes then how? We now need to know the early symptoms or warning signs of the growth of wisdom teeth. So that it can be easily detected and deduced if it is in a healthy position or not.

Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth
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2.1. Swelling 

There will be a minor swelling at the very back or end of your mouth, it can be either of the ends. It can cause a certain level of discomfort. When I had it, I assumed it to be a result of an ulcer, which can pop up at any place inside your mouth. But when it stayed there for an unusual period of them, that’s when I decided to seek a dentist.

2.2 Infection 

There are chances for this new friend to bring along some unwanted guests with them. When the wisdom tooth is growing in the wrong position, it can open spaces where the food you eat gets easily stuck. So no matter how many times you floss your teeth after brushing, the infection is bound to occur. As the bristles won’t be able to take away the food particles from such spaces.

Such an infection is called Pericoronitis.

2.2.1 Pericoronitis

One of the common infections is caused by the eruption of third molars. Sadly, it won’t go away on its own and if left untreated it can become life-threatening. As there are chances for it to spread to other parts of the body. When you have it, you experience difficulty in swallowing, pain, and swollen gums.

It can be treated with proper antibiotics, but the most advised and effective treatment is tooth extraction. That means taking the cause of the problem from its roots. If the tooth is extracted, then the gum shall recover from the infection within a week or two.

2.3 Headache

When the wisdom teeth grow in the wrong position, it affects your teeth alignment, causing overcrowding in your gums. This leads to building up more tension in your jaws. As a result, you can experience a series of headaches.

3. Benefits of Detecting It

If you decide to visit your dentist after understanding that this recurring pain can be a symptom of growing wisdom teeth. Then you must get an X-ray done to solidify your concerns. If wisdom teeth are being erupted then, there are a few benefits you can incur if you remove them in their initial stages.

Benefits of Detecting it
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3.1 Damage Prevention 

These third molars, which erupt in the wrong position tend to grow toward the neighboring teeth. This damages nearby healthy teeth. As a result, it can weaken the roots of the teeth or even grind its enamel, leaving it exposed to germs and infections. This can also lead to tooth decay or cavities getting built up outside the teeth.

If it does happen, then you need to first get a root canal and then a tooth extraction. Then get a cap on the affected teeth. Both of which can cause double the pain and expense.

3.2 Prevents Oral Diseases

Removing your wisdom teeth at the right moment can prevent any kind of infection. Too much inflammation on your gums can make it difficult to extract the tooth. If injections do occur, then they can spread through your bloodstream under the gums and infect other parts of the body.

3.3 Reduces Pain

The most important benefit of removing the unwanted third molar is that you can save yourself from a lot of pain. You don’t have to go through the discomfort and suffer pain in doing basic tasks like talking or eating.

4. How Are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Now after reading and understanding this article on ‘Can wisdom teeth cause Jaw pain?’If you finally decide to get the unwanted third molar extracted. Then you must be aware of the procedures involved in it.

How are wisdom teeth extracted?
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4.1 Before the Surgery

Now before the procedure, there are certain things that you should avoid and some which you must do.

1. Avoid eating anything after midnight. This is something a dentist would suggest to you too, as it is very important during the surgery for the anesthesia to work on you. If you go to the surgery with a full stomach, then they can work as an obstruction in your pathways. As a result, you might experience more pain than you need to.

2. Always mention to your dentist the prescribed medicines you take. So that there aren’t any kind of health risks while giving you Anesthesia.

3. Now if you are a smoker, then make sure that you don’t smoke for 48 hours before the surgery. That’s because doing so can affect your respiratory system and you would require a larger amount of Anesthesia compared to non-smokers.

4. Make sure that you bring a guardian with you for the surgery. This is highly recommended because in no condition you would be fit to drive back home all by yourself. This is because you would be under the influence of Anesthesia for quite a few hours.

4.2 During the Surgery

Now if your wisdom teeth have fully erupted as other teeth. Then the procedure shouldn’t take much time. But if it’s a partially erupted tooth, then it can take up to 45-50 minutes. To access the tooth, a small cut is made, which is called an incision in medical terms. This is where you would require Anesthesia the most.

Then the bone covering the teeth would also be removed. Don’t worry it would be just a small piece. Finally, your teeth would be cut into smaller pieces and removed.

4.3 Post Surgery

Once the surgery is done, you must not rinse, spit, or drink anything hot, as doing so can dislodge the blood clots that are formed inside the empty tooth socket. These blood clots can help you heal, so you don’t want anything to happen to them. Also, you shouldn’t eat anything hard to chew or else the stitches inside your mouth can get broken.

You would notice a certain level of swelling in your jaw, around the area where the wisdom tooth was removed. To reduce it, try rinsing your mouth with hot water with a little salt added to it. But start doing it only after 24 hours of the surgery.

5. FAQs

5.1 Why Do Wisdom Teeth Cause So Much Pain?

Now after reading this article on ‘Can wisdom teeth cause jaw pain?’ you must have this question ‘What actually causes that pain?’ So let us address this question of yours.

There are cases when the impacted wisdom teeth touch one of two nerves near it. When this happens you experience an excruciating pain in your jaw. So every time you try opening your mouth to talk or eat something hard, that nerve is touched and causes pain.

Now there are chances for those nerves to get bruised when extracting your wisdom teeth. That’s where Anesthesia comes in handy, it makes sure that you don’t feel the pain for a good period and when it wears off, you hardly feel anything. There is just a lot of swelling, which can be controlled with hot water.

5.2 Is there any benefit to having wisdom teeth?

It is very often one might see wisdom teeth as another molar that can help us chew our food. To be honest, yes it did, but at a time when early men used to roam this Earth. That’s because back then our jaws were much wider and food used to be raw meat which required more strength to chew.

As time passed, our food and cooking habits changed. We shifted from raw meat to cooked meat, which is comparatively much softer. As a result, our jaw also evolved over some time. Now we can only accommodate 32 teeth in our mouth and even if someone can adjust one or two wisdom teeth. Still, it has no use as we don’t eat that kind of food anymore.

Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by riyaspeaks