What Causes Wisdom Tooth Pain and How to Manage It

A toothache is one of those maladies that can turn even the brightest day into a dreary one. It often starts as minor twinges and sensitivity to hot or cold sensations, gradually evolving into a relentless ache that refuses to let up. Those persistent signals from your teeth are your body’s way of telling you to get help. While the origins of front tooth pain are often evident, such as in the case of cavities or trauma, diagnosing the reasons behind back tooth pain, particularly in the case of your last four molars — the wisdom teeth, can be more challenging. In this blog, we’ll be delving further into the dreaded wisdom tooth and why it can be so painful, along with pain management strategies and solutions that can help. Let’s get started!

Wisdom Teeth Pain and Impaction

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars located at the back of the mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the mouth – two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. These teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone may have wisdom teeth, while for others, they may grow without causing any problems at all. However, for quite a few individuals, these third molars can be quite problematic. This is because wisdom teeth emerge when all your other teeth have fully grown, and there may not be enough space in the mouth for them, thus causing them to become ‘impacted’.

Impacted wisdom teeth can get stuck in the gum, growing out halfway and leaving them partially exposed, or they can grow sideways or at the wrong angle. This can be extremely painful and leaves the tooth at risk of infection. In such cases, wisdom tooth removal is often the only solution. If not extracted, it can cause further pain and damage to your surrounding teeth.


Causes of Wisdom Tooth Pain

If your wisdom tooth comes out straight, you may not even feel it. There may be some phantom pain or a slight discomfort for some, but it is usually not a cause for concern. However, an impacted wisdom tooth can be extremely painful and requires professional help for long-term relief.

Here are some common reasons for wisdom tooth pain:


A wisdom tooth can become impacted if it’s unable to emerge from beneath the gums, grows out partially and gets stuck or comes out sideways. This can be painful and lead to other oral issues if not treated. Your dentist can help guide you with an oral examination and an x-ray to recommend the right course of action.


Insufficient space in the jaw for the wisdom teeth to emerge properly can lead to crowding, misalignment, and pain as the wisdom teeth try to find room in the back of the mouth.


Because of their location, wisdom teeth are difficult to clean, often putting them at higher risk of tooth decay. Especially when they become impacted and are partially exposed, bacteria or food debris can get stuck there and penetrate under the gums. This can lead to infection, swollen gums and cavities, which can spread to the surrounding teeth.


Cysts can form around the wisdom tooth as they develop within a sac inside the jawbone. The accumulation of fluid within this sac can create a cyst, posing a risk of harm to the jawbone, adjacent teeth, and nerves.

Gum Disease

The partial eruption of wisdom teeth can create pockets around the gum, making it easier for bacteria to accumulate. This can result in infection or gum disease, causing pain, swelling, and redness.

It’s important to note that the primary cause of wisdom tooth pain is impaction. The other causes occur because of it. The earlier the impacted wisdom tooth is detected and removed, the fewer the complications. Regular dental checkups and cleaning can allow dentists to see if a wisdom tooth is coming in, monitor its development, and recommend the most suitable treatment to minimise pain and complications.


Managing Wisdom Tooth Pain

Dealing with the discomfort of an impacted wisdom tooth can be challenging, and while extraction is the ultimate solution, certain circumstances might delay a visit to the dentist. Whether you’re travelling, have prior commitments, or face scheduling constraints, here are some short-term strategies to help alleviate wisdom tooth pain until you can secure professional treatment:

Professional Dental Cleaning

Schedule a professional dental cleaning to address immediate issues related to plaque and bacteria buildup around the impacted tooth. A thorough cleaning by a dental practitioner can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation and the amount of infection causing bacteria in the area.

At Whitehorse Dental, we offer Airflow therapy, a gentle whole mouth clean with only air and powder particles. With minimal contact, it cleans deep periodontal pockets, soft mouth tissues and the inaccessible areas at the back of your mouth, improving oral hygiene, removing stains, and leaving your mouth fresh and revitalised.


Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain and inflammation of wisdom tooth issues. Alternatively, if there’s an infection, prescription antibiotics can help reduce pain and swelling. Follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns or existing medical conditions.

Home Care

Maintain meticulous oral hygiene practices, including gentle brushing and flossing, to minimise irritation around the impacted area. A soft-bristled toothbrush and a mild, non-alcoholic mouthwash can help prevent further discomfort. Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater several times a day can aid in reducing inflammation and keeping the affected area clean. You can also apply a cold compress externally to reduce swelling and pain. Use a cloth-wrapped ice pack or a warm water bottle for this purpose.

Lastly, schedule an appointment as soon as possible for a long-term solution. These strategies are only applicable for temporary pain management. Delaying treatment may cause further oral issues.

Get a Healthy, Pain-Free Smile!

Don’t live with wisdom tooth pain. At our Blackburn clinic, we offer gentle wisdom tooth treatment with dentists who are there with you every step of the way. From an accurate diagnosis and a smooth procedure to aftercare and recovery, we ensure personalised and high-quality care for all our patients. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of wisdom tooth pain or are concerned about your oral health, consult our caring dentists for tailored wisdom teeth solutions today.