Wisdom teeth – also known as the third molars – are the farthest tooth in the back of the mouth. They usually begin to appear between the ages of 17 and 25 – during the ages when most people have gained some ‘wisdom’. Although four wisdom teeth (one in each quadrant) are the norm – it is possible to have fewer or more (extra wisdom teeth are called supernumerary teeth).
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are vestigial, much like our appendix. Although they no longer perform any pertinent functions for the human body, they were once crucial for chewing and processing a heavily plant based diet.
So why are you feeling wisdom teeth pain?
The problem with wisdom teeth is that the mouth does not usually have enough space to house them. As a result they often become impacted (when limited space causes overlying gum and bone or another tooth to hold emerging tooth back)or partially impacted (when the tooth pierces through the gums but does not sit properly). Impacted or partially impacted teeth can cause several problems in the mouth. They can shift or damage adjacent teeth, creating a crowded or crooked smile. This can result in periodontal problems such as gum disease, tooth decay and/or cause adjacent teeth to require restorative surgeries. All of this can add to your wisdom teeth pain.
What are the symptoms of incoming wisdom teeth?
- Pain in the gums where the tooth is emerging
- Stiffness or irritation in the jaw near the impacted tooth
- Crowding of the teeth
- Facial swelling
- Bad taste in mouth
- Infection in the gum
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
How can you remedy the pain while waiting for extraction?
If you have scheduled your extraction but are experiencing mild to moderate wisdom teeth pain in the interim, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to ward off possible infections as well as over the counter pain medication. You can also rinse with warm water and salt or antibacterial mouthwash to keep the area clean and healthy. If you are experiencing severe wisdom teeth pain it may be a sign of an infection and your dentist should be notified immediately.