What do I do if I’m having pain from wisdom teeth?

Image of inflamed gum tissue associated with wisdom tooth pain

Wisdom tooth with inflamed gum tissue or pericoronitis
image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:38_pericoronitis_with_pus.jpg

If you’re having pain from wisdom teeth and you are sure there’s no infection because you’ve already checked with your dentist then your options are rather limited. In another article in this series, I mentioned the need to determine whether wisdom teeth are erupting normally and there is plenty of room for them. If so, your best bet for reducing pain is keeping the gum areas around them clean and free of food and bacteria. Rinsing with warm salt water may help to reduce swelling of the gum tissue in the area where a wisdom tooth is erupting.

An oral irrigator appliance may also be helpful to remove food debris and bacteria around wisdom teeth. It consists of water reservoir, an electric motor operated pump and tubing with a nozzle tip.  It sends a pulsing water jet to displace food and bacteria stuck between teeth and gums.  The tip is compact and rotates to any angle for easy use even in the back of the mouth.  If you intend to use warm salt water (1-tsp. table salt to 8 ounces of warm water) in your irrigator appliance, mix it first in a glass and stir until all of the salt is dissolved. Then pour the solution into your irrigator reservoir. When you are finished empty the reservoir, rinse and refill with plain water and run the pump for another 30 seconds into the sink to clear the pump of salt water.

Over-the-counter medications for pain may relieve some of the symptoms but don’t rely on this if the pain continues for more than several days.

If the pain is severe, you may have to return to your dentist and request a prescription for something stronger and more effective for your particular condition. But that’s still only a temporary measure. Either the tooth erupts completely, or you’re faced again with the possibilities of tooth removal.

Using anesthetics modern dentists have available today you should be able to have a relatively comfortable wisdom tooth removal procedure in most cases. And the post-operative recovery should be relatively uneventful as well.

Our grandparents and their grandparents certainly faced different challenges than we do today when facing a toothache.

Many years ago, before the invention of local anesthetics, people had to suffer through toothaches of all kinds including wisdom teeth.  Some were overcome with severe infections that were life-threatening.  If they were in the city, a dentist may have been available to help them. If they were way out West, in more primitive areas, ideal help was not readily available.

In the cowboy days of the 1800’s , if you had a tooth that was hurting and there was no dentist in your town the only resort might have been the local blacksmith.

The local saloon provided a more antiquated type of anesthesia.  Then, if you were lucky, you or your friends would tell the blacksmith which tooth was causing problems. He would give it his best with his blacksmith tongs. If you weren’t so lucky, and you guessed wrong, you could try it again another day.

We also did not live as long in the 1800’s for many reasons.  We did not have antibiotics. We did not have local anesthetics. We did not yet have laughing gas or nitrous oxide until after the 1860’s. The quality of a surgeon then was often judged by how fast he could operate since pain relief was not available.

A tooth infection then, was potentially life-threatening. And today, it still is, if left untreated.

If you are trying to weather the storm of wisdom tooth eruption pain when there is enough room for the tooth, work with your dentist to monitor your situation carefully. He may suggest several natural remedies to aid in your quest to keep the offending tooth.

Look for more in the series of articles: Questions You Must Ask Your Dentist Before Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed.