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The Wisdom of Wisdom Teeth? Pain Diagnosis and Treatment

May 26, 2017 3:10 am Published by
Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth (third molars) are the last posterior teeth in a person’s mouth and often don’t erupt till people are between the ages of 16-25 with most people often having four present. However, it is not uncommon for people to have fewer, extra (supernumerary teeth) or none, and not all of these may erupt.

Interestingly, wisdom teeth are a product of our evolutionary history when our ancestors used them for grinding cellulose from plants. Since then as we have evolved, our jaws have gotten smaller. These days, often people don’t have enough room in their mouths for wisdom teeth to erupt cleanly and vertically. Complications are often frequently associated with the lower wisdom teeth (38, 48) rather than the top (18,28). Even if wisdom teeth have enough room in the jaw to erupt vertically, people may still experience teething pain issues. These include gum tenderness, bad odour and mild jaw pain. They may also have difficulty cleaning the region, however with good hygiene these symptoms often settle. However, others may experience more severe complications including, crowding, infection, damage to other teeth, or impaction. These are discussed below;


Infection-related complication is a common problem associated with third molars, especially in the lower jaw. Signs of infection usually present together and can include swelling, gum redness/tenderness, dull throbbing/pulsating sensation, bad odour and taste in mouth, difficulty opening jaw, pus, swollen glands in neck, fever, sore throat, headache and/or rapid heart rate.

Wisdom teeth infections often develop when bacteria grow between the split gum and the tooth as it erupts. If you experience any signs of infection you should seek medical attention immediately for treatment as it has the ability to spread rapidly and can lead to serious complications like sepsis if not treated.


When someone has a small jaw or teeth that are too big for their jaw and wisdom teeth erupt, sometimes crowding may occur. This is when wisdom teeth during or after erupting may place pressure on nearby teeth causing them to shift forward in the mouth. Often people who have had orthodontic work to realign their teeth (bracers) may be advised to get their wisdom teeth out to prevent this from happening. Additionally, people may also require orthodontic work after crowding occurs from this process to reverse the damage caused by wisdoms. People often experience jaw pain and teeth pain/ache when experiencing crowding. In some circumstances wisdom teeth keep pushing forward they have the potential to damage or kill the tooth in front. Often as a person ages their teeth also move forward in their jaw, and wisdom teeth may worsen this movement/crowding.

Damage to nearby teeth

People often experience difficulty cleaning their wisdom teeth whether brushing or flossing, even if they erupt vertically. Over years of insufficient cleaning sometimes wisdom teeth can develop decay or cause decay in the molar in front due to plaque building up between the teeth leading to a cavity. Decay often has no symptoms in the first stages. This can go unnoticed unless detected by a dental care provider.

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This post was written by Letooth

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