Do you think you have an impacted wisdom tooth?  Have you been having jaw pain, headaches, or gum pain that is coming from behind your molars?  If so, it’s possible they are warning signs of an impacted wisdom tooth.

Wisdom teeth erupt around age of 17-21 behind second permanent molars. Primary cause of wisdom tooth pain is the limited space for the teeth to erupt.  Without sufficient space, the wisdom teeth may cause pressure on adjacent teeth and/or gums, and thus become impacted.

Soft tissue impaction occurs when wisdom is erupting, the gingiva around the wisdom tooth become inflamed and swollen; the gums may bleed and become painful to touch, and may also over grow the adjacent tooth.  Hard tissue impaction occurs when there is near nonexistent space for the wisdom tooth to erupt.  The wisdom tooth attempts to erupt but the pressure of the neighboring tooth and bone prevents the tooth from erupting fully upright; the pressure thereby can cause pressure and pain to the jaw. Hard tissue impacted pain may be severe and cause loss of sleep.  Often times pain medication may not sufficiently relieve the pain and the pain can be excruciating.


Note that the impacted wisdom tooth may be positioned vertically, diagonally, and even horizontally with adjacent tooth, and may or may not involve gum swelling and pain.


Minor gum irritation relief may be obtained by applying topical oral anesthetic for a period 7-10 days.  In certain cases the gums may be excised (removed) for soft tissue relief, though if the wisdom tooth continues to erupt, further gum irritation may occur and cause additional gum overgrowth.  In such cases the affected wisdom tooth may need to be evaluated for extraction.  At this point your family dentist may refer to you an oral surgeon for treatment.


Since the primary cause of pain of hard tissue impacted wisdom tooth is insufficient space, treatment options for such are limited. One approach is a possible “wait and see.”  Since it is difficult to predict if the tooth may continue to move and cause bony pressure, a limited course of anti inflammatory medication (i.e. ibuprofen, naproxen) may be attempted at your dentist’s discretion.  If anti-inflammatory medication do not resolve the symptoms, eventual surgical extraction of the tooth may be required.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your wisdom teeth, be sure to consult your family dentist.