How to Manage Tooth Pain from Erupting Wisdom Teeth?

Are you feeling pain and pressure in the back of your mouth as a result of erupting wisdom teeth? You’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 85% of young adults between 17 and 25 years old are impacted by this common dental issue. If left untreated, it can cause severe discomfort that radiates to other areas of the face or even your neck and head.

Fortunately, with knowledge about the steps needed to manage pain from wisdom teeth eruption, you can relax knowing that relief is just around the corner! Keep reading to learn more about the signs it may be time for wisdom tooth extraction, as well as strategies for providing much-needed comfort during this difficult period.

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that typically emerge in young adulthood. Their primary function was to help our ancestors chew raw plants and meat. However, with the evolution of our diet, these teeth have become somewhat redundant.

Reasons for Pain

Several factors can cause discomfort from erupting wisdom teeth:

1. Impaction: 

Often, there is insufficient space at the back of the mouth for wisdom teeth to emerge properly. This can result in the teeth becoming impacted, meaning they cannot break through the gum line. An impacted wisdom tooth might grow at an angle towards the next tooth (second molar), straight up or down but stay trapped within the jawbone, or lean backward towards the back of the mouth.

2. Pericoronitis: 

As the wisdom tooth tries to emerge, a flap of gum tissue might remain over its crown. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under this flap, leading to a localized gum infection called pericoronitis. This condition can cause pain, swelling, a bad taste in the mouth, and even swollen lymph nodes.

3. Pressure Pain: 

The growing wisdom tooth can exert pressure on adjacent teeth and the jaw, leading to a dull, aching pain. This pressure can also cause teeth misalignment in some cases.

4. Cysts or Tumors: 

In rare instances, a sac near the wisdom tooth becomes filled with fluid, forming a cyst, which can damage roots of adjacent teeth, the jawbone, and nerves. In even rarer cases, tumors might form, requiring surgical removal.

5. Decay or Gum Disease: 

Partially erupted wisdom teeth can be hard to clean due to their location at the back of the mouth. This can lead to tooth decay or gum disease around the wisdom tooth or neighboring teeth, which can cause pain.

Symptoms of Erupting Wisdom Teeth

Before diving into pain management strategies, it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms. This will ensure timely intervention and relief. Common symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain and tenderness
  • Red, swollen gums around the emerging tooth
  • Bad taste in the mouth or foul breath
  • Difficulty opening the mouth

Strategies to Manage Tooth Pain from Erupting Wisdom Teeth

The emergence of wisdom teeth can be an uncomfortable phase for many. While some people experience little to no discomfort, others face pain, swelling, and general unease. To alleviate the discomfort, consider the following strategies:

1. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers:

Medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Always use as directed and ensure there are no contraindications with other medications you might be taking.

2. Cold Compress:

Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected side of the face for 15-minute intervals can help reduce swelling and numb the pain. Avoid direct contact with the skin by wrapping the compress in a cloth.

3. Clove Oil:

Known for its numbing properties, clove oil can be applied to the painful area using a cotton ball. It provides temporary relief from the throbbing pain.

4. Topical Oral Gels or Ointments:

Over-the-counter oral gels or ointments can numb the affected area, providing temporary relief from pain. They usually contain ingredients like benzocaine.

5. Avoid Irritants:

  • Try to avoid very hot, cold, spicy, or sweet foods and beverages that might exacerbate the pain.
  • Reduce consumption of crunchy or hard foods that may put added pressure on the erupting tooth.

Seeking Professional Help

If the pain persists or if there are signs of infection, it’s vital to consult a dentist. They might recommend:

Oral Examination: 

This helps in determining the alignment of the emerging wisdom teeth and detecting potential issues.


This gives a clearer picture of the position of your wisdom teeth, revealing any impaction or other issues.


In cases where the erupting wisdom teeth might cause significant problems, extraction might be the most viable solution.

Preventive Measures to Manage Tooth Pain from Erupting Wisdom Teeth

Anticipating and managing the discomfort associated with erupting wisdom teeth can make a world of difference. By adopting certain preventive measures, individuals can lessen the pain, prevent complications, and ensure a smoother teething experience.

Regular Dental Check-ups: 

Make dental visits a routine. Your dentist can monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth and detect any potential issues early. X-rays can provide insights into the alignment and potential impaction of these teeth.

Oral Hygiene: Maintain impeccable oral hygiene to prevent infections or decay.

Brushing: Brush your teeth twice a day, ensuring you reach the back of your mouth where wisdom teeth emerge.

Flossing: Regularly floss, focusing on the back molars. This removes trapped food particles and prevents gum infections.

Mouthwash: Use an antibacterial mouthwash to kill bacteria and keep your mouth fresh.

Dietary Precautions: When you feel your wisdom teeth starting to emerge:

  • Avoid sticky or hard foods that can get stuck or exert pressure on the erupting area.
  • Reduce intake of very hot or cold foods and drinks to prevent triggering sensitivity.
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks to prevent decay.

Salt Water Rinse: 

A warm salt water rinse can be a preemptive measure when you sense your wisdom teeth are about to emerge. It soothes the gums and can help in reducing inflammation and fighting off bacteria.

Avoid Smoking: 

Smoking can delay the healing process, increase the risk of infections, and intensify pain when wisdom teeth are emerging. If you smoke, consider taking a break when your teeth are coming in.

Protective Dental Wear: 

If you engage in contact sports or activities that risk injury to the mouth, wear a mouthguard. A blow to an area where a wisdom tooth is emerging can exacerbate pain and cause other complications.

Pain Management: 

While it’s more of a reactive measure, keeping over-the-counter pain relievers on hand can be helpful. These can alleviate pain when it first begins, making the eruption process more bearable.


Dealing with erupting wisdom teeth can indeed be a challenge. However, understanding the symptoms and adopting effective pain management techniques can make this journey considerably smoother. Remember, while the above strategies offer temporary relief, consulting a dentist is pivotal for long-term solutions on how to manage tooth pain from erupting wisdom teeth.

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