Why does Wisdom Tooth Hurt? Pericoronitis

Typically, adult has four wisdom teeth and they don’t come in until a person’s late twenty years old.  Often, people will complain about pain caused by the wisdom tooth.  There are many reasons why wisdom tooth causes pain.

Just like other tooth, wisdom tooth would have to push through the gum tissue when it is coming in.  During the process of eruption, the eruption movement of the wisdom tooth causes pressure to the adjacent tooth and the gum tissue, so as the result, it might cause discomfort and perhaps pain.

In addition, the wisdom tooth might grow side way (or horizontally impacted.)   It can be totally submerged under the gum tissue or it may be half way showing through the gum tissue.  If it is impacted and is unable to break through the gum tissue completely, the food is more lilely to be jammed in between the wisdom tooth and the adjacent tooth.  Bacteria will feed off from the jammed food debris and infection will occur.  The bacteria infection will cause inflammation of the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth.  The technical term of this inflammation is called pericoronitis.  The gum tissue around the wisdom tooth might appear reddish in color (in comparison to the pinkish color of normal gum tissue) and might be swollen.

The treatment would be antibiotics for short term control of the infection but it is generally recommended to have the wisdom tooth removed for prevention purpose.  Failure to remove the wisdom tooth might cause many major dental problems.  See my previous article for more information.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Practicing General Dentist Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona.