How can wisdom teeth cause jaw pain

jaw pain from wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth are the last four teeth to develop. They typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. However, 35% of people are born without them.

These teeth are often prone to eruption problems due to lack of space: nine out of ten people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. When there isn’t enough room for a tooth to fully enter the mouth, it is called “impacted.” If left it can damage nearby teeth, become infected, and make it difficult to reach and clean that area of the mouth and gums.
One of the complications is radiating pain in the jaws.

When wisdom teeth can cause jaw pain?

impacted wisdom tooth
The appearance of wisdom teeth is not always associated with pain. Sometimes the wisdom tooth erupts normally without complications. In the opposite case, complications can occur, which are strongly linked to an accident of evolution of these teeth.
Wisdom teeth will produce symptoms, the most common and the most annoying is radiating pain in the jaws and temporomandibular joints.
Among the triggers:

Partial eruption

Normally, when the teeth erupt, a connection is formed between the tooth and the gum, but in the case of a partial eruption, just a part of the tooth that is visible, the rest is often covered by an inflamed gum: the connection between the gum and the tooth has not been properly established, which leads to the accumulation of debris and bacteria in this area resulting in the infection of these tissues causing acute pain which can spread over the rest jaw. The other symptoms are manifested by:
• A swollen and reddened gum.
• Difficulty opening your mouth or speaking.
• Difficulty chewing and swallowing.
• A feeling of bad taste or bad breath in the mouth.
• Swelling of the lymph nodes.


An impacted tooth is a tooth that, for some reason, has been blocked from breaking through the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth don't always cause symptoms. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, damages other teeth or causes other dental problems, you may experience some of these signs or symptoms:
• Red or swollen gums
• Tender or bleeding gums
• Jaw bread
• Swelling around the jaw
• Bad breath
• An unpleasant taste in your mouth
• Difficulty opening your mouth


The wisdom tooth can move in any direction. If it is not in the right one, complications can occur including resorption of the root of the 2nd molar, increased risk of caries, mobility of the anterior teeth, disturbance of the occlusion which will affect the temporomandibular joint. Symptoms of misalignment can include discomfort from the crowding of other teeth and pressure and pain in the mouth.


The formation of wisdom teeth can lead to the appearance of cysts. The cyst next to the wisdom tooth is painful and in the form of a bump of varying size.

How pain can spread from wisdom teeth to the jaws?

jaws innervation jaws innervation

To answer this question, you should know that the innervation of the lower part of the face is very complex. This is why the pain can be expressed elsewhere than in its affected site, particularly the head, the jaw and the temporomandibular joints.
Besides, the nerves responsible for transmitting the signals of inflammation do not express the pain locally, they cause the pain to spread, which is why it is difficult to identify the tooth responsible for the pain.

This photo illustrates the irradiation of tooth pain in the jaws.

tooth pain irradiation to the jaws

Treatment of jaw pain from wisdom teeth

To treat the pain associated with wisdom teeth, you need to know what is behind it. Many situations require the extraction of these teeth: approximately 85% of wisdom teeth must ultimately be removed, especially in these situations:

  • Pain and problems at temporomandibular joint.
  • Wisdom teeth can interfere with the 2nd molars that have already erupted. This damage is more common if wisdom teeth grow horizontally.
  • An infection that needs to be treated quickly.

In the meantime, you might be able to find relief at home. Try using the following:

A mouthwash of saltwater

Think about it if your gum is red, sore and swollen. All you have to do is pour about eight ounces of warm water into a glass and stir in two tablespoons of salt until it’s completely dissolved. Rinse with the water for several minutes, or as long as you can stand the salty taste, and then spit it out. If you want to use mouthwashes after extracting your wisdom teeth, ask your dentist for advice. Repeat the process every few hours, the pain will gradually disappear.

Apply Ice

Applying an ice pack may be able to help. Simply use a commercial ice pack or put some ice in a plastic baggie, wrap it in a towel and apply it to the swollen area.


Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-pain, clove is a good way to fight against toothache. Simply crush a clove between your fingers and then apply it a few minutes on the painful area.

Adapt your diet

Modifying your diet will not directly calm the dental pain but it will avoid aggravating it. Avoid hot and sour drinks and eat soft foods.

Soft bristle toothbrush

Use a soft bristle brush; you will avoid aggravating the inflammation, and thus contribute to the acceleration of the healing process.

After extraction…

Pain after extraction is very common. It should gradually decrease as healing progresses. But the duration can vary greatly (from a few days to a few weeks). Depending on the complexity or severity of the surgery performed to extract the tooth.
Think about taking analgesics by following the prescription of your doctor.
Do not hesitate to use the home remedies, they are still effective after the extraction. In case of very intense toothache, call your dentist it may be one of the postoperative complications.