Why does my wisdom tooth cause me pain?
Part of the tooth may be covered by a flap of gum. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. This can cause swelling and a low-grade infection called pericoronitis. This usually happens with lower wisdom teeth. Pericoronitis, and the pain it causes, are the most common reasons people need wisdom teeth taken out.
Can wisdom tooth be removed without surgery?
Yes and no. A panoramic x-ray of the jaw is taken before the dentist present the suitable treatment route depending how the tooth is impacted in the jaw. Factors would include the position of the tooth in the jaw and/or if there is bone blocking the tooth from erupting. They may cause pain, but not always.
What to expect from a wisdom tooth removal?
If the wisdom teeth are erupted, the tooth will be removed. After surgery, you may be asked to bite down softly on a piece of gauze for 30 to 45 minutes after you leave the office, to limit any bleeding that may occur.
If the wisdom tooth are impacted and embedded in the bone, the dentist will put an incision into the gums and remove the tooth in sections in order to minimize the amount of bone being removed. Some pain and swelling may occur, but it will normally go away after a few days; however, you should call your dentist or oral surgeon if you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever.
After surgery, swelling and tenderness in the face and neck are common, as is bruising. Ice packs and pain medications prescribed by the dentist or oral surgeon should help ease the pain.
Post extraction/surgery, follow your doctor’s instructions on:
- Activity. After your surgery, plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Resume normal activities the next day, but for at least a week, avoid strenuous activity that might result in dislodging the blood clot from the socket.
- Beverages. Drink lots of water after the surgery. Don’t drink alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages in the first 24 hours. Don’t drink with a straw for at least a week because the sucking action can dislodge the blood clot from the socket.
- Food. Eat only soft foods, such as yogurt or applesauce, for the first 24 hours. Start eating semi-soft foods when you can tolerate them. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate the wound.
- Pain management. You may be able to manage pain with a prescription pain medication — given by your doctor or oral surgeon — or an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Paracetamol (Panadol and others). Holding a cold pack against your jaw also may relieve pain.
- Bleeding. Some oozing of blood may occur the first day after wisdom tooth removal. Try to avoid excessive spitting so that you don’t dislodge the blood clot from the socket. Replace gauze over the extraction site as directed by your dentist or oral surgeon.
- Swelling and bruising. Swelling and bruising of your cheeks usually improves in two or three days. Use an ice pack as directed by your dentist or surgeon.
- Cleaning your mouth. Don’t brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, spit or use a mouthwash during the first 24 hours after the surgery. After that time, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours and after meals for a week after your surgery. Mix 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of water. After the first 24 hours, resume brushing your teeth, being particularly gentle near the surgical wound to avoid disrupting any stitches.
- Tobacco use. If you smoke, don’t do so for at least 24 hours after surgery — and wait longer than that if possible. If you chew tobacco, don’t use it for at least a week. Using tobacco products after oral surgery can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.
- Stitches. You may have stitches that dissolve within a few weeks or no stitches at all. If your stitches need to be removed, schedule an appointment to have them taken out.
When to call your dentist or surgeon
Call your dentist or oral surgeon if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, which could indicate an infection, nerve damage or other serious complication:
- Swelling that worsens after two or three days
- Severe pain not relieved by prescribed pain medications
- A bad taste in your mouth not removed with saltwater rinsing
- Pus in or oozing from the socket
- Blood in nasal discharge
- Persistent numbness or loss of feeling
In a nutshell, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if there’s a chance your wisdom teeth will cause problems, it’s easier to take them out when you’re young. That’s because the roots of the teeth are not fully developed yet, and the bone around the teeth is less dense. Younger people also heal faster than older ones. As you age, it will take longer to recover from the surgery.