When Painful Wisdom Teeth Can Indicate a Serious Problem

Do you hate the idea of leaving a task only half-finished? Sometimes you will have very little control over this, and this can be the case with your wisdom teeth. These pesky third molars often only partially erupt, emerging from your gums, growing upwards, and then seemingly giving up before matching the height of your other molars. Ideally your wisdom teeth won't give you any trouble, but they certainly have the potential to do so. Much of this trouble can be avoided by maintaining a high level of oral hygiene, but the fact that a wisdom tooth is partially covered with a section of gum tissue known as an operculum can make the area difficult to clean. When this area becomes infected, it can cause significant discomfort, and in some cases, can even require a trip to an emergency dentist


The inflammation of the area around a wisdom tooth is known as pericoronitis. Pain is the most common symptom, and so if you experience prolonged discomfort around the tooth, you should see a dentist as soon as possible so that the pericoronitis is immediately treated and halted. The dentist will generally thoroughly irrigate the area, flushing away any debris that have become lodged under the operculum. If the surrounding tissue has become infected, antibiotics might be needed.

Possible Additional Complications

Though some discomfort around a partially erupted wisdom tooth might not seem to be serious, and could even subside of its own accord, it can become rather serious if the infection spreads. When this discomfort is accompanied by secondary symptoms, such as fever and noticeable swelling, it's vital that you visit an emergency dentist to prevent the pericoronitis from overwhelming your immune system. In some cases, your airways can become restricted as the infection spreads, which is why immediate treatment is crucial. 

Treatment for Your Wisdom Teeth

In these extreme cases, antibiotics will also be required to control the infection, and your dentist will also inspect the site to determine whether your wisdom tooth has become abscessed, draining the abscess as needed. Once the infection has been treated, your dentist might suggest removal of the wisdom tooth to prevent the possibility of pericoronitis again in the future. This is certainly preferable to possibly suffering from another bout of this type of infection.

Painful wisdom teeth shouldn't be dismissed as something you merely have to live with. In addition to the discomfort, it can be a sign of something more serious.