Wisdom teeth erupt in all shapes, sizes, and orientations which often leads to problematic and painful eruption usually in the late teeth years or early 20s. Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to develop in the mouth. There are typically four wisdom teeth in total, but often wisdom teeth cause the majority of dental issues compared to the other teeth.
Discomfort and pain from erupting wisdom teeth sometimes may resolve on its own, but often the wisdom teeth can cause other issues during eruption such as the decay of other teeth, infection, or shifting of other teeth. In many cases, a wisdom tooth will need either active home management or oral surgery to remove the tooth before it causes more advanced problems.
This article discusses ways to relieve pain from wisdom teeth and also the causes of wisdom teeth pain.
Home Remedies For Erupting Wisdom Teeth
As anyone who has ever had an erupting wisdom tooth knows, the process can cause significant discomfort. In most situations, you should try to see a dentist or oral surgeon immediately to prevent issues to the other teeth. While having a consult with a dentist is the best idea, it’s not always immediately possible. People have jobs, families, and obligations which may require a day or two before they are able to coordinate an appointment. While you are waiting for a consult for your wisdom teeth, there are several over-the-counter medical treatments and natural home remedies available.
NSAIDs are over the counter anti-inflammatory medications that help to reduce pain and inflammation from wisdom teeth. The most commonly used and typically the most effective is Ibuprofen. Most adult patients may take 400mg to 800mg every 6 hours to help manage pain from wisdom teeth erupting.
Warm Salt Water Rinse
Often times when a wisdom tooth is erupting or becomes infected, the whole area is sore which makes cleaning difficult:
- The inability to clean a wisdom tooth further compounds the issue.
- Gently rinsing with warm salt water may help reduce inflammation, helps to soothe the area, and can help to cleanse the area.
- Add a tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of water and gently heat in the microwave. Make sure the temperature is comfortable and then swish for 20-30 seconds on the side of the painful wisdom tooth.
- Try to limit saltwater rinses to a maximum of 5 rinses per day to avoid negative side effects from drying out the soft tissue around the wisdom tooth.
Often times the pain from a wisdom tooth is not from the tooth itself, but the gums it is breaking through:
- The gums can be sore, inflamed, or infected which causes pain.
- A numbing dental gel may help reduce pain in the gums and dull the pain from the erupting wisdom tooth.
- There are several gels available over the counter and most contain the active ingredient benzocaine. A common brand name of numbing gel is called Oragel.
- The gel is applied topically to the painful area and helps to relieve the ache of the gums temporarily.
If the area of the wisdom tooth is sore and inflamed, ice will help to reduce the inflammation and help prevent the swelling from the wisdom tooth from getting worse: Alternate holding a frozen bag of peas against your cheek for 10 minutes on and off each time aside can additionally provide the benefit of having a minor numbing and topical analgesic effect.
If the area of the wisdom tooth has become actively swollen in the area of the cheek, it is no longer as helpful to use ice. At that point, you may switch to warm compresses to help bring circulation to the area which will soothe the swelling and help to carry the swelling away so your body can fight the infection more efficiently.
Inflammation and bacteria often cause painful wisdom teeth:
- The tannins in tea have been shown to provide antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action.
- The tannins in tea help aid your body in its healing process to reduce the cause of wisdom teeth pain.
- Soak a tea bag briefly and then gently bite on the tea bag in the area of the infected wisdom tooth. This won’t cure the wisdom tooth completely, but it will help supplement your body’s immune system.
Consultant Experienced Dentist or Oral Surgeon
In many cases, home remedies may not fully alleviate the pain of an impacted wisdom tooth. Even if your wisdom teeth pain does begin to settle, it is still a good idea to have a consult with a dentist or oral surgeon to prevent future problems. Even if wisdom teeth are not painful, they can still create a multitude of issues due to their poor positioning.
Some of the issues a wisdom tooth can cause are shifting of the other teeth, decay on the wisdom tooth or other teeth, bite problems, TMJ, or periodontal issues later in life. A wisdom tooth may be removed in oral surgery by an experienced surgical dentist, or oral surgeon. At a consult and evaluation, a surgical dentist or oral surgeon will be able to predict whether your wisdom teeth are likely to cause a problem in the future.
So we discussed several ways to cope with pain from your wisdom teeth, but what are some tips to help prevent the issues in the first place? When your wisdom teeth are coming through, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of not having the gums become infected. Sometimes regardless of what you do, the position of the wisdom tooth creates pain, swelling, or infection regardless of how well you take care of the area. So don’t feel you did anything necessarily wrong if you do develop a wisdom tooth infection. Here are some helpful tips for you to prevent wisdom tooth pain:
Maintain Oral Hygiene
The wisdom teeth are tucked in the far corners of the mouth, which makes access to reach the teeth for cleaning very challenging. Often it is difficult to even fit a toothbrush on the side of the wisdom teeth completely Pay extra attention to brush all surfaces of your wisdom teeth thoroughly at least twice per day and floss the wisdom teeth at least once per day.
To access the wisdom teeth more easily for brushing or flossing a good maneuver is to close your mouth halfway. It may sound counter-intuitive, but by closing your mouth slightly, the jaw widens in the back areas. In addition to brushing and flossing, use a fluoride mouth rinse to prevent bacteria from forming on the wisdom teeth. A common brand of mouth rinse that we recommend is ACT fluoride mouth rinse.
Hydrating with plenty of water helps to support your immune system, rinse away bacteria and food from the teeth, and reduce the bacterial load around the teeth and gums, thus reducing your chance of developing tooth decay or an infection.
Avoid Sugar and Sticky Foods
Sweet, sticky foods cling to the teeth and can lodge more easily around the gums. The bacteria in your mouth use sugar as a critical source of energy. By limiting sugar intake, you will limit the number of bacteria and the potential for infection long term.
If you had orthodontics and have retainers, be diligent about wearing them. What often happens is the wisdom teeth begin pushing on the back of your second molars before the wisdom teeth come up through the gums.
This subtle pressure begins to slowly push the other teeth forward as the wisdom tooth squeezes a little extra room for itself while it’s erupting upward. By wearing your retainers, it will prevent crowding of your teeth and the possibility of having to repeat your orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction in Boston, MA
Dr. Sutera of Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction serves as a leader in comfortable wisdom teeth surgery. His practice serves patients in Waltham, Lexington, Newton, Wellesley, Weston, and the Boston metro west area. Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction also offers a full fleet of dental sedation options including nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and IV sedation dentistry to aid your comfort. Contact us today to set up an appointment to discuss your wisdom tooth removal and other oral health care needs. We look forward to helping your smile!