March 17, 2023

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain?

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain?

For some people, their wisdom teeth come in around 16 and never cause a problem. But for others, wisdom teeth become potential sources of jaw pain, infection, and mouth damage. And eventually, their dentist may recommend removing them.

Seeing your dentist for regular exams and cleanings twice a year is one way to get ahead of problems before they become significant issues or cause permanent damage. When your wisdom teeth are growing, your oral health can change quickly. 

If you begin noticing signs of a possible problem with your wisdom teeth, see your dentist as soon as possible to prevent a dental emergency.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Your wisdom teeth are often referred to as “3rd molars.” These are typically the final teeth to erupt from your gums—if they come in at all. Most people find their wisdom teeth come in during their late teens to mid-20s.

Unfortunately, many people’s mouths simply aren’t large enough to accommodate these 4 final teeth. As a result, wisdom teeth often come in at an angle or only erupt partially through your gums. This is referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth and is often the first sign of a potential concern.

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain?

Because many mouths are not large enough to accommodate 3rd molars, a person’s wisdom teeth may push against and crowd other teeth when they make their way through your gums. This can cause jaw, gum, and general mouth pain. Your jaw may even become sore, stiff, and difficult to open from inflammation.

A woman has her tooth extracted due to pain. Holding her extracted wisdom tooth with two fingers

Signs You May Need Your Wisdom Teeth Out

When your wisdom teeth come in, there’s often some minor discomfort. But prolonged pain or other symptoms may suggest a tooth extraction is a good option. If you’re experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, talk to your dentist about them:

Pain & Swelling

An impacted tooth may cause no pain. Alternatively, it can cause mild to severe discomfort if it comes in at a bad angle or impacts another tooth. This discomfort could come in waves as the mouth adjusts.

If your mouth doesn’t have enough room, the pain will typically persist and worsen. In addition to the pain, this tooth movement can also cause swelling, adding to your discomfort.

Infection

Infection is the other potential problem with an impacted wisdom tooth. The partially erupted tooth often creates spaces to trap food and germs, which can be difficult to clean properly. This can lead to swelling, infection, and eventually gum disease.

Another infection that’s common with an impacted wisdom tooth is pericoronitis. If this infection is left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the mouth and throat.

Stiff Jaw

Before inflammation and irritation progress into an infection, they may cause some jaw stiffness. This can make it uncomfortable to open your mouth, making it difficult to clean your teeth properly.

Sinus Pain & Trouble Eating

Sinus pain is another signal that you may have wisdom teeth troubles. Additionally, congestion and pressure are common. This can make it difficult to eat, plus you may experience headaches.

No Symptoms

There may be a situation where your wisdom teeth aren’t causing problems. However, your dentist may recommend extraction to prevent those potential problems based on X-rays and their examination of your mouth. Ultimately, this is a decision you and your dentist can make together. 

Other Reasons for Jaw Pain

Jaw pain alone isn’t enough to diagnose an impacted wisdom tooth because many other things can cause the pain

Trauma

Sustaining an injury can lead to long-term jaw pain. A hard blow to the jaw can lead to a dislocated jaw or a tooth getting knocked out. Soft foods and over-the-counter pain medication are often enough to relieve minor discomfort.

Oral Problems

In addition to wisdom teeth, grinding your teeth in your sleep (bruxism), a tooth abscess, or misaligned teeth can all lead to jaw pain. Seeing your dentist regularly and having a solid oral hygiene routine are 2 of the best things you can do to fight back against oral problems causing pain in your mouth.

Discuss Mouth or Tooth Pain with Your Dentist

If you begin experiencing any of the symptoms above, give us a call at Outdoor Dental. Whether your pain is related to wisdom teeth or something else, we are here to help. We want you to be happy and healthy, and it’s hard to be happy when you have an aching tooth.

Contact our office and book an appointment with one of our dentists. After fully examining your mouth, we can create a treatment plan if needed.