Posted on: 24 May 2021
You might already be well aware of the fact that you have impacted wisdom teeth. You probably don't give these third molars all that much thought — until they painfully remind you of their presence. Why can impacted wisdom teeth suddenly start to hurt, and what's the best way to manage the situation?
Asymptomatic to Symptomatic
Your dentist is similarly aware of the presence of your impacted wisdom teeth and has opted to leave them alone. Many people's wisdom teeth remain entirely asymptomatic. This means that there was sufficient space in your dental arch for the eruption of your third molars, and the eruption did not affect the other teeth in your mouth (such as a wisdom tooth pressing against a neighbouring tooth). The issue is that wisdom teeth aren't always quite so predictable, and what was asymptomatic can become symptomatic, with discomfort (and even severe pain) quickly becoming a symptom.
A Localised Infection
An impacted wisdom tooth that has started to hurt may have developed a localised infection. This is centred around the gingival tissues that surround the tooth, with the impaction (or partial submersion in your gums) of the tooth being a major factor. The impaction of the tooth has created a space (between your impacted tooth and your gum line) for particles of food and harmful oral bacteria to gather. The placement of the tooth (its impaction) has made it difficult for you to dislodge these harmful components with regular cleaning, meaning that the gingival tissue around the wisdom tooth has become infected, leading to that discomfort you're feeling.
This type of infection is known as pericoronitis, and its progress can be unpredictable. For some patients, the infection will subside of its own accord (or more accurately, due to some effort from your immune system). You can never assume that this will be the case, and even if the infection seemingly vanishes, it's likely to return. In extreme cases, the infection can spread to the point that your entire jaw hurts. It may even swell, and you can experience secondary symptoms, such as fatigue and fever. A sore wisdom tooth must always be checked by your dentist, as you simply cannot foresee how serious the issue will become.
Removing the Problem
Your dentist can quickly manage your discomfort by numbing the site, but the most appropriate course of action will generally be the prompt removal of your wisdom teeth. Although they might not have given you any issues over the years, pericoronitis is the warning sign that something is seriously wrong, and it's up to you and your dentist to listen to that warning.
Pain around an impacted wisdom tooth may go away, but it can also worsen significantly as the infection spreads. It's really not worth the risk, so be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist to investigate any wisdom tooth pain.Share