Wisdom tooth pain and treatment

Where does wisdom tooth pain come from?
Wisdom tooth pain can be caused by many factors. Most adolescents don’t even know that they have wisdom teeth until movement of the tooth begins and some of the tooth breaks through the gum overlying the wisdom tooth. This can cause a teething like pain that can be intermittently troublesome to many patients experiencing this. Other patients may experience a dull ache or pressure like feeling in their jaw or near their ear and still others may have vague facial pain or headaches that come and go. Although these other vague symptoms may have other causes, impacted wisdom teeth, especially in the adolescent, can be a major source of face/jaw pain and discomfort.

Who should I see first in the event that I have wisdom tooth pain? Many patients see their general dentist first because that is to whom they have easiest access. Also, your dentist would be the best person to determine if your pain could be coming from another source, such as an adjacent tooth or your jaw or facial muscles. However, if you cannot get in to see your dentist in a timely fashion or you have already been told by a dental professional that your wisdom teeth could be the source of your pain you may call an oral surgeon’s office directly to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

Who is the best person to remove my wisdom teeth? Although any licensed dentist is trained to remove wisdom teeth only oral and maxillofacial surgeons have been specifically trained to manage the most difficult of situations. Also, they are able to provide adequate anesthesia for you in an office based setting because oral and maxillofacial surgeons are uniquely trained in the administration and delivery of general anesthesia. Many oral and maxillofacial surgeons focus their practice largely on the management of impacted teeth.

When is the best time in my life to remove wisdom teeth? The best time to remove wisdom teeth is between the ages of 14 and 25. The reason is simple. It is the time in a person’s life where this procedure has the least risk associated with the procedure. The risks that we discuss with all patients are the risks to a nerve that courses below the lower wisdom teeth and supply sensation to the lip, chin, gums and cheek on the same side as the wisdom tooth. If injured during the procedure, this can lead to a temporary numbness in these areas which in rare circumstances can be permanent. Other less serious complications are exposure of the sinus cavity that sits above the upper wisdom teeth and healing times which are typically prolonged in older individuals.

Should I be worried about losing movement in my face after the surgery if a nerve injury is encountered? No. The nerve that lies below the lower wisdom teeth only supplies sensation (feeling) and does not move any part of your face.

Should I remove my wisdom teeth even if there is no pain? Well that depends. If you are under the age of 25-30 then the answer is usually yes.  The reason, it is a less complicated procedure that will have effects on your oral and dental health. Also if your wisdom teeth give you problems later in life it will likely become a more complex procedure. If you are over the age of 30 then the reasons for your having the procedure become more important. If it is simply because you didn’t have time in your life until now then this is probably not the best procedure for you. However, if there is a problem with you wisdom teeth such as pain, or an asymptomatic infection or decay in the teeth then you could be a candidate for this procedure.

What can I expect after the procedure? Most post operative courses are approximately 5-7 days in duration.  You can expect to resume your usual daily activities and go back to work or school in this period of time.  Because everyone heals differently this is just an estimation.  Some may take a few days more and some can even take a few days less.  Typically, the older you are the longer it will take to heal.

When should I schedule for the procedure to be done?   The beauty of this procedure is that, unless you are experiencing severe symptoms, it can be scheduled at your leisure.  Most people tend to schedule the procedure around holidays, long weekends or school vacation.  This gives ample time for healing and your loved ones can be sure to be available to help you.

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