Wisdom Tooth Pain

Wisdom tooth pain how to manage from home Toronto dentist

Are you having dental pain or a toothache that seems to be coming from the back of your mouth and radiates across the side of your face? Are you experiencing swelling, difficulty swallowing, fever, or trouble opening your mouth fully? You may be having a problem with your wisdom tooth. Read more below on how to manage wisdom tooth pain from home or contact us for more information.

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How do I know if I have a wisdom tooth problem?

You can be sure that pain is coming from the wisdom tooth if it seems to be coming from behind the last tooth in your mouth. You may not see the wisdom tooth because it may be trapped underneath the gum.

The most common reasons for wisdom tooth pain can be due to: (1) inflammation of the gums around the tooth, or (2) due to cavities in the tooth itself.

Wisdom tooth pain due to inflammation of the gums

Inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding a partially erupted wisdom tooth is also called pericoronitis.  Pericoronitis is caused by an accumulation of bacteria, food particles, and debris between the wisdom tooth and the gum. Normal oral hygiene methods are not effective in cleaning the gums properly.

Pericoronitis is classified into acute and chronic types.

Acute pericoronitis is associated with a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Severe pain,
  • Tenderness and swelling around the wisdom tooth and in the surrounding areas,
  • Tender lymph nodes under the jaw,
  • Difficulty opening your mouth,
  • Bad breath (halitosis) and bad taste in your mouth,
  • Yellow pus and/or blood exuded from the operculum difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and
  • Fever.

Chronic pericoronitis presents few or mild symptoms and long periods of remission between acute flare-ups (acute pericoronitis). Every once in a while, you may feel discomfort or swelling in the gum surrounding the wisdom tooth as the infection comes and goes.

Wisdom Tooth Pain due to tooth decay  

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a breakdown of teeth due to acids made by bacteria, and can leave a dark hole inside the wisdom tooth. If it progresses further, tooth decay can travel to the center of the wisdom tooth, which is rich in nerve fibers. This can be very painful. 

Wisdom tooth decay signs and symptoms include:

  • Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
  • Pain when you bite down


What are my options for treating wisdom tooth pain?

The best thing to do if you suspect you have wisdom tooth pain is to seek the help of a dental professional. At Atlas Dental, our dentist combines x-ray imaging with a clinical exam to diagnose your problem and we can provide same day wisdom tooth removal. Contact us for more information.

But if you cannot immediately see a dentist, there are number of things you can do from home to manage wisdom tooth pain.


Managing wisdom tooth pain from home

Pain medications

Pain medications provide a temporary relief of pain and can be freely available over the counter at your local pharmacy. Speak to your local pharmacist or dentist for a recommendation of what is right for you. They may recommend Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ketorolac, Ibuprofen (Advil) or a combination of the three.

This may surprise you, though: Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) together works better to relieve pain than taking them separately. These are pain medications that are readily available over the counter. Just make sure to not take more than the recommended dose.

Unless you have a health condition that prevents you from taking either ibuprofen or acetaminophen, the absolute maximum dose that I recommend patients take for the worst dental pain is 600mg ibuprofen with 1000mg acetaminophen every 4 to 6 hours.

Some people experience some stomach or abdominal pain when taking the two medications together. In this case, it’s better to alternate when you take each medication.

Keep the area as clean as possible

Whether you are having tooth pain due to pericoronitis or due to tooth decay, keeping the area around the wisdom tooth as clean as possible is always a good idea.

When brushing your teeth, make sure to reach as far back in the mouth as possible to clean around the wisdom tooth. Specialized tooth brushes like the Sulcabrush have smaller, tufted brush heads that are angulated and make it easier to reach behind the last tooth. Brush often, ideally after every meal.

Swish with mouth wash often. Mouth wash has anti-bacterial chemicals that kill bacteria that cause pericoronitis and tooth decay and can stop dental decay or pericoronitis from getting any worse.

A Waterpik Water Flosser is a terrific device for wisdom tooth problems because the powerful water jet can blast away debris and bacteria that a traditional tooth brush has difficulty reaching. One great tip is to put one part mouth wash with water in the well of the Waterpik to get an added anti-bacterial effect of the mouthwash. The Waterpik Water Flosser can be found in your big box department stores like Walmart or Costco or in your local pharmacy.

Dietary Changes

What you eat matters, and it is well known that certain foods and drinks increases your risk of dental decay. Specifically, you want to avoid food and drinks that are sugary, sticky and acidic. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Soda pop
  • Coffee with Sugar
  • Citrus fruits and drinks
  • Candy
  • Dried Fruit
  • Potato Chips

By changing the foods you eat, you change the environment in your mouth that is less friendly towards bacteria responsible for tooth decay that thrive in sugar-rich, acidic environments.

To learn more about these foods and drinks that are harmful to your teeth, read this article: 8 Foods and Drinks that are Bad for Your Teeth.

Avoid chewing on the affected side

By favoring the side that is not causing you pain, you avoid further irritating the affected side. Food, bacteria and any other debris will not get impacted into the area of your wisdom tooth.

Avoid foods that are too hot or too cold

Keep the food you eat lukewarm or room temperature. Any sudden temperature changes, such as foods that are too hot or too cold may irritate the affected tooth.

Contact your Toronto Dentist at Atlas Dental

Regardless of the dental concern, it is important to consult a Toronto dentist you trust. Atlas Dental is a concierge dental clinic that offers dental emergency service, general dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry in the Toronto area. Contact us today.


How much does Wisdom Tooth Removal cost?

A common question is how much does it cost to remove a wisdom tooth. For more information, visit our page on Wisdom tooth removal

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