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Dealing with Wisdom Tooth Pain and Problems

July 09, 2023 ABC Children's Dentistry

If your older child is “cutting” wisdom teeth, he or she may be faced with weeks of ongoing pain and discomfort.  How can you relieve this pain, and how do you know if wisdom teeth should be removed?  It is important to understand the progression of wisdom teeth eruption or growth and when to take your child to a dentist so that you can minimize his or her pain and make informed decisions about wisdom tooth removal.

What Are Wisdom Teeth And Why Do They Have to Be Removed? 

Wisdom teeth are the term applied to the last set of molars to erupt or grow in from under the gum line.  This typically happens in the late teen years, although some people do not get their wisdom teeth until their early twenties and some get them earlier.  Wisdom teeth, because they are so far back in the jaw and arrive so late, are more likely than other teeth to be impacted or grow in crookedly. When this happens, pain and swelling can develop, as well as stress and eventual problems with other teeth and the gum line.

It is also important to remember that not all wisdom tooth pain is caused by impaction or crooked growth.  Other causes of pain can include:  tooth decay, in which the teeth begin to decay before or after they are growing out of the gum; infection or abscess, above or below the gumline; and gum disease, which can spread to the rest of the mouth.

Ultimately, your dentist is the best person to analyze and make a recommendation on how to relieve wisdom tooth pain.  In many cases, dentists will recommend extraction of the wisdom teeth; this will allow the site to heal and give the other teeth room to grow comfortably.  Wisdom tooth surgery is relatively low-risk and can be performed under sedation so that the young patient is not frightened or in pain during the procedure.

What Can I Do In the Meantime? 

In the meantime, if your child’s wisdom teeth are bothering him or her, there are some at-home remedies you can use to provide relief until an extraction can be scheduled:

  • Pain relievers. Your dentist may prescribe prescription pain relievers.  However, if this is not an option, over-the-counter medications that are safe for children can provide some relief.  Be sure to follow dosage recommendations carefully.
  • Cloves and clove oil. An older remedy is to place a whole clove on the affected area and have the child hold it in place by biting down.  You can also try clove oil, which is available in many stores.  This can be applied to a cotton swab and placed over the area.  It is thought that the natural chemicals in cloves provide some form of relief from toothache pain.
  • Warm salt water. Saltwater has been used for years to cleanse the mouth and help with pain and swelling.  Mixing a half teaspoon of good quality sea salt with warm water and using it as a rinse may help relieve pain.  Be sure the child does not swallow the solution; instead, he or she should swish it gently around the affected area then spit it out.  This can be repeated as often as necessary for relief.

As soon as possible, make an appointment to see your child’s dentist for further treatment.

At ABC Children’s Dentistry, we are here to help you with all your child’s dental needs.  From wisdom teeth to routine preventative maintenance, we will help you find the right solutions for your child’s oral care.  Give us a call today!