Wisdom tooth pain can sometimes come out of nowhere, suddenly erupting overnight without warning. On the other hand, wisdom tooth pain can also come on slowly and gradually, and can be shrugged off or perhaps mistaken for something else. (1)
An important first step if you think you may be experiencing wisdom tooth pain is to make an appointment to see your dentist. He or she will be able to evaluate the area, take necessary X-rays, and determine whether or not your pain is truly wisdom tooth pain.
Easing Wisdom Tooth Pain Temporarily
In the meantime, however, there are ways you can help alleviate wisdom tooth pain at home. Ice chips applied on and around the area can help to numb the area. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen will also help dull wisdom tooth pain while you wait to see your dentist.
Another good idea is rinsing your mouth with a salt-water solution. Using a mixture of about eight ounces of water with two teaspoons of salt, gently rinse your mouth with the solution. Salt-water rinses clean your mouth and help dislodge pieces of food that may be trapped in the gums around your tooth, exacerbating wisdom tooth pain. For this reason, it can be a good idea to rinse your mouth out after meals to prevent food from becoming trapped. Trapped food can also increase your chances of developing an infection. (2)
Wisdom Tooth Pain and Extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is not an option for some people due to potential risk for complications, bleeding disorders, or some other cause. In these cases, your dentist may recommend the pain management options like those mentioned above. In cases where wisdom tooth extraction is not an option, your dentist may also prescribe a special mouth rinse that will clean your mouth after meals and kill bacteria that could potentially cause infection. (3)
While these steps can lessen wisdom tooth pain temporarily, the only permanent solution will likely be complete extraction of the wisdom teeth. This procedure has become fairly routine; your dentist or oral surgeon will be able to fully explain the possible risks and potential benefits involved.
Although usually a complication-free procedure, wisdom tooth extraction can cause some degree of pain and discomfort. Wisdom tooth pain following the surgery is usually minor and can be managed at home. Your oral surgeon will likely prescribe you medication to manage post-surgical pain following your surgery. Cold compresses and ice packs gently applied to the face can also help reduce pain and bring down swelling. Your dentist may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or dietary changes. Avoiding solid foods temporarily will allow the wounds to heal.
Wisdom tooth pain should not be taken lightly. While at-home pain management is an option for some patients, in most cases wisdom tooth extraction is the best way to alleviate wisdom tooth pain and protect your oral and overall health and well being. As always, your dentist will be able to evaluate your specific health needs and help you decide on the best option.