If you’re experiencing discomfort and even wisdom teeth swelling, then there’s no cause for alarm – at least not yet. This is perfectly normal when wisdom teeth start to erupt through the gums.
However, wisdom teeth are renown for being problematic and this is partly due to the fact that they’re the last teeth to come through – normally in late adolescence or the early twenties.
By this time, all 28 adult teeth should have erupted and often, there simply isn’t room in a person’s mouth to accommodate these last 4 molars. So what causes swollen teeth problems? Let’s take a closer look…
Swollen wisdom teeth causes
There are several reasons for wisdom teeth swelling. These include:
Sometimes wisdom teeth are blocked by the jawbone or other teeth and are prevented from breaking through the gums. When this occurs, they’re known as impacted wisdom teeth. Cysts or pockets of fluid can sometimes form around impacted wisdom teeth, which, in turn, can lead to tumours. As the tooth roots grow and get a proper hold, wisdom teeth swelling is more likely to become a problem.
In other cases, wisdom teeth may manage to erupt fully or partially erupt past the gumline. When this happens it’s likely to cause redness, pain, tenderness and swelling around the affected area.
Natural body response
The main cause of wisdom teeth swelling results from a natural bodily response. When an injury occurs, an infection is present, or a wisdom tooth is emerging from the gums, it’s natural for the body to respond by delivering red blood cells, oxygen-rich blood and other necessary nutrients to the affected area.
Consequently, small blood vessels expand in the area and blood flow increases, which results in the pain and swelling that so many people experience from their wisdom teeth.
When the wisdom teeth emerge, the already irritated gum tissue may have to contend with particles of food that have got trapped in the area. All this does is increase the swelling around wisdom teeth and other symptoms that are associated with wisdom teeth eruption.
So now we know what brings about any swelling, what about eradicating the problem?
How to reduce wisdom teeth swelling
If the swelling has been made worse by food trapped around or between the teeth then rinsing your mouth may dislodge it. Dentists often recommend rinsing with warm salt water or an antiseptic mouthwash. Once the food particles have washed away, the swelling should reduce on its own.
Other ways to reduce wisdom teeth swelling include:
- Applying cold compresses to the affected area or face
- Sucking on ice cubes
- Taking OTC painkillers such as ibuprofen.
- These contain anti-inflammatories which can minimise wisdom teeth swelling making it easier for you to open your jaw, eat and speak, and generally make life more comfortable for you.
Wisdom teeth swelling can progress to other complications
If you are experiencing wisdom teeth swelling, then it’s important to make an appointment with your dentist. They will take an x-ray to assess the situation. It may be that you have an impacted wisdom tooth which can cause its own set of problems.
Alternatively, it could be a cyst or an infection that has formed around the submerged wisdom tooth. Oral infections are extremely serious since they can enter the blood system and cause damage to other organs and tissues. If you’ve noticed a bad odour coming from the back of your mouth, then infection is highly likely.
If your wisdom teeth are causing you severe pain, affecting neighbouring teeth, or making it difficult for you to maintain good oral hygiene, your dentist may recommend that they are removed.
How long does wisdom teeth swelling last?
We’ve already talked about swelling during the wisdom teeth eruption process but the swelling is also to be expected following wisdom tooth extraction. Its duration depends on the severity of the swelling.
The level of swelling is dependent on the complexity of the surgery. Swelling around the eyes, side of the face, mouth and cheeks is common and is the body’s reaction to surgical intervention and its eventual repair.
How to reduce wisdom teeth swelling after extraction surgery?
Swelling isn’t normally noticeable until the day after surgery and reaches its peak within 2 to 3 days post-surgery. Wisdom teeth swelling can be minimised using ice packs placed on the side of the face where the surgery took place and left on continuously while you are awake.
48 hours after surgery, it’s also beneficial to apply moist heat to the sides of the face to help reduce swelling further. Swelling and stiffness of the jaw may persist for several days but there is no need to be alarmed. This is a perfectly normal reaction to surgery.
Any pain and swelling should subside 3 to 4 days after surgery but if it worsens, shows no signs of going down, or you develop any unusual symptoms after that time, then contact your dentist for advice.
Some patients develop a lump between the jawline and the cheek area which is mostly hard swelling. It often forms after wisdom tooth removal or occurs when an infection has caused the lymph nodes to swell. It can take a week or two for the swelling to go down.
Sometimes, if the root is still inside, the infection may remain there, causing the swelling. In cases such as these, your dentist will perform an x-ray to determine the exact problem and is likely to prescribe stronger antibiotics to help reduce the swelling.
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort with your wisdom teeth or have noticed wisdom teeth swelling then No Gaps Dental is here to help. Our friendly dentists have plenty of experience with wisdom teeth and can tell you if removal is necessary. Book an appointment online or call us on (02) 8007 6727.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.