Wisdom Teeth Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Remedies to Reduce Pain

wisdom teeth pain dr dhesi

For most of us, wisdom teeth and pain are synonymous. Considering these teeth puncture through the gums, growing at odd angles in the back of the mouth with little to no room, it’s easy to see why.

Either we’ve gone through this painful ordeal ourselves usually at a young age, or know somebody who just had their wisdom teeth removed later in life, when these upper and lower third molars emerge, pain is just inevitable for most people.

Below, we touch on what causes this pain, the symptoms to be aware of, and provide some easy relief strategies to help reduce the inflammation.

What causes wisdom teeth to be so painful?

Unfortunately, the most common reason for wisdom teeth removal, as discussed here, is also often the most painful — an impacted tooth. This is when the large molar (or molars!) is simply too big and stuck in the rear part of the mouth. Whether the tooth is growing at an angle or straight up and down or partially or fully impacted, it just hurts.

Some people will experience pain abruptly or even overnight (tooth eruption), which is a clear sign it’s time to address the situation and pay the dentist a quick visit. However, others may feel pain gradually, leading them to believe this is nothing serious, or something else in the mouth entirely (such as gum infection, a broken tooth, damaged filling, tooth decay).

When in doubt, book a consultation

Even if the pain is minimal, it’s best to book a consultation with the dentist or an oral surgeon. In Calgary, Dr. Dhesi, a board certified oral surgeon will review radiographs, perform an exam, and provide recommendations on treatment required.

However, pain or even no pain, if gone untreated for too long wisdom teeth can really impact overall oral health and/or cause damage to other teeth, and therefore should always be treated sooner rather than later.  

For more on extraction, visit our page Wisdom Teeth Removal: Everything You Need to Know

Symptoms: what to look out for

So, we know emerging wisdom teeth hurt. But what are the symptoms? What are the signs and types of pain to watch out for? The reality is, there are many different symptoms. 

More common signs

This all depends on the exact cause, however, the most common sign is simply feeling pain behind the molars in the back of the mouth, and most likely, the area will also be tender to the touch and inflamed. A quick look in the mirror may indicate a partially impacted tooth (poking through the gum), thus bleeding is not uncommon. 

Less obvious symptoms to be aware of 

wisdom teeth pain dr dhesiWhile pain and swollen gums may be signs of emerging wisdom teeth, less common symptoms such as bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth should not be ignored either.

The more misleading wisdom teeth pain symptoms include jaw pain or swelling around the jaw. An unpleasant taste in the mouth along with bad breath are also common can be present , but can be easily dismissed. 

Signs such as fever, headache, ear pain, pain when chewing, sinus pressure, and tooth sensitivity to either hot or cold drinks, are things to watch out for also.

Remedies: quick, simple ways to keep pain in check and reduce inflammation

The good news? The wisdom teeth will indeed be extracted and the pain will soon be a memory. Bad news? The appointment isn’t until next week. So, it’s time for some quick home remedies. 

Fortunately, there are some simple and attainable ways to help reduce the world of hurt in the mouth. Generally, these techniques help to reduce the discomfort and pain. Here are our top tips:

  • Ibuprofen: a quick win with some over-the-counter medicine most people have in their medicine cabinet. This will help reduce inflammation.
  • Ice: either an ice pack or ice chips. Inside the mouth, ice chips applied to the sore tooth can help numb the pain. Outside the mouth, applying an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel against the jaw can help reduce inflammation, in turn, help relieve pain (just don’t apply the pack directly against the skin — seek directions for this). 
  • Salt water rinse: bacteria is often a culprit of pain — a build-up of bacteria in the broken gums around wisdom teeth can be washed away with a few tablespoons of salt dissolved into a glass of freshly boiled water, then used as a rinse once water has cooled down.
  • Benzocaine Gel: better known as numbing gel, benzocaine is the active ingredient in this over-the-counter product which helps dull the pain when applied directly to the troubled area in the mouth. 

Remedies from the kitchen 

Some other less conventional types of remedies found around the kitchen include sticking a whole clove in the mouth directly on the spot causing the most irritation. 

Another is dabbing clove oil to a cotton ball and swabbing the sore gums. 

wisdom teeth pain remedies dr dhesiSome of the simplest remedies can be found in the kitchen. Tea bags apparently contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties said to help alleviate pain when applied to the inflamed region near the molar.

There’s also cutting off a piece of onion (which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties), chewing it for a few minutes on the painful side of the mouth to release those beneficial juices, and spitting it out.

There is also the remedy of using cold tea bags after they’ve been steeping in a proper cup of tea, applied inside the mouth where the pain is located — the natural tannins found inside these bags are said to contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.


End of the day, impacted wisdom teeth and their causes are inevitable. The symptoms are just part of the process and quick remedies are a temporary solution to reduce the pain. 

Booking an appointment with Dr. Dhesi for a proper evaluation is one solution to understand how to deal with these bothersome third molars and alleviate the pain that comes with them.