Is my tooth pain from an impacted wisdom tooth or a tooth abscess?

Pain at the rear of the jaw may indicate a number of problems. This symptom can develop when an impacted wisdom tooth continues to try to erupt into the jaw. If there is not enough room for the large wisdom tooth, it may cause the other teeth to shift as it tries to emerge. This results in discomfort.

A wisdom tooth abscess may also develop in that vicinity, and this condition can cause discomfort, too. An abscess occurs when bacteria infiltrate the tooth’s inner core and reach the root. One of the effects of this process is painful inflammation at the tooth’s root.

The wisdom teeth are more prone to abscesses than other teeth because it is so challenging to keep that area free from bacteria with normal brushing and flossing techniques. This is one compelling reason that patients choose to have impacted wisdom teeth extracted.

A wisdom tooth abscess also will have other symptoms in addition to any discomfort. The bacteria buildup can result in a fever, swelling in the area or in bad breath.

It is unlikely that a patient will be able to determine the cause of dental pain on his or her own, so any patient experiencing a severe toothache at the rear of the mouth should consult with an oral surgeon for a thorough evaluation. The oral surgeon can examine the teeth and gums and take x-rays to determine the cause of your tooth pain.

Many patients will opt to have their wisdom teeth extracted before any symptoms develop as a pre-emptive measure to reduce the chances of experiencing discomfort, whether it is abscess-related or not. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a number of other problems in addition to abscesses and pain, like cysts, misaligned teeth and damage to neighboring teeth.

If you have been experiencing pain in the vicinity of the wisdom teeth, contact our dual degree oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Steven Koos to determine the cause of that pain and explore appropriate treatments. Call 312-328-9000 and schedule an appointment as soon as possible for your case to be evaluated.