How to stop throbbing wisdom tooth pain?

Wisdom tooth pain

With the change in our diet, the problems with wisdom teeth are rising. Smaller jaws have led to more wisdom teeth impactions, and a high-sugar diet is associated with tooth decay. All these problems lead to terrible wisdom tooth pain. Let’s jump into why wisdom tooth hurts and how to deal with it at home. 

What are wisdom teeth and what makes them unique from other teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last tooth that erupts in your mouth. They are four in number, one on the side of the quadrant, and erupt between the age of 17-21 years. They resemble other molars and are, therefore, also known as third molars. However, their root morphology is quite variable. Some have bifucated or trifurcated roots, others have fused roots. Also, complex root canal anatomy and kinks and curvature in roots make root canal treatment challenging.

Moreover, the lower wisdom teeth lie above the neurovascular bundle that supplies blood and nerves to the teeth, while upper wisdom teeth lie close of sinus. Complex third molar surgeries are, therefore, carried out by experienced maxillofacial surgeons to avoid injury to these vital structures.

Read more: Is it normal if I only have 24 teeth in the mouth?

Why does wisdom tooth hurt?

There are three main reasons for wisdom tooth pain: 

  • Pericoronitis 
  • Tooth decay
  • Cyst


Wisdom tooth pain

Pericoronitis is a common phenomenon seen in wisdom teeth. As we evolve, our jaws have become smaller due to changes in our diet (introducing refined and processed foods), leaving less room for the erupting third molars.

Between the ages of 17 and 21, the developing roots propel the wisdom tooth toward the gums; if there is not enough space in the arch, the tooth is pushed sideways, either toward the cheeks or tongue. Also, inadequate space doesn’t allow complete eruption of the wisdom tooth, which remains partly submerged and partially covered with the gums.

Plaque accumulation and bacterial growth below this gum pocket leads to inflammation, known as pericoronitis. Pericoronitis is episodic and causes swelling and pain in the surrounding gum tissue.

Read more: 8 First signs of wisdom teeth coming in.

Tooth decay  

Tooth decay in the third molar is similar to cavities in other teeth. However, painful wisdom tooth due to a deep cavity is treated a bit differently because of the variable root anatomy of the wisdom tooth. The variable and complex root anatomy and remote location can be challenging during root canal treatment. 

Therefore, a wisdom tooth is often extracted unless it has an uncomplicated root anatomy and one or more molars and premolars are missing. 

Read more: Root canal aftercare – 8 Measures you need to take


Slowly erupting third molars taking years to reach the occlusion (bite) may develop cysts and cause pain. Also, malposed third molar may cause cavity or periodontal (gum inflammation) issues in the adjacent tooth. Such a tooth needs removal to save the second molar. 

Why does wisdom tooth pain come and go?

Pericoronitis is episodic and comes and goes. Factors such as stress, hormonal changes, cold and flu, depressed immunity, and lack of sleep aggravate the symptoms of pericoronitis.

The removal of the gum flap may give you relief, but the flap often grows back. Extraction of the tooth is usually a permanent solution if the flap recurs, with frequent episodes of pain and swelling.

Read more: Can you use vicks vapoRub for toothache

What does wisdom tooth pain feel like?

The following signs and symptoms are associated with impacted wisdom tooth aka acute pericoronitis:

  • Severe pain and sweliing in the soft tissues covering the tooth
  • Enlarged lymph nodes 
  • Fever 
  • Pus discharge 
  • Pain on swallowing

How to stop throbbing wisdom tooth pain?

Pain related to the wisdom tooth can be relieved at home through the following remedies:

Oral hygiene maintenance

Wisdom tooth pain

Oral hygiene maintenance is the key when if you’ve acute pericoronitis. Acute pericoronitis occurs due to food impaction below the gum pocket. Use an extra-soft bristle toothbrush and interdental to clean the area around the third molar. Be gentle, as aggressive brushing can lead to ulceration, resulting in more pain and infection. 

You can also use antibacterial mouthwash after every meal to reduce the bacterial load around the inflamed area. 

Read more: Bamboo toothbrush benefits

Eat a soft and nutritious diet

Eat a soft and nutritious diet to heal the inflammation. Eat sandwiches, boiled eggs, cheese, chicken, or vegetable soup. Avoid soda, fresh juices, and all the processed foods. 

Read more: What to eat after wisdom teeth removal

Over-the-counter pain medication 

Severe throbbing wisdom tooth pain often doesn’t respond to home remedies and is relieved with pain medications. You can take any one of the following medications:

Don’t take advil, aspirn and aleve together, as they belong to same group (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and can result in severe side effects.

Moreover, don’t place aspirin on the inflamed tissues for pain relief. It can burn your gums and demineralize the tooth. 

Read more: Can cyclobenzaprine help with tooth pain?

Numbing gel 

You can use benzocaine gel for toothache. Apply it on the tooth and gums. It contains benzacaine 20%, a local anesthetics, menthol 0.5% and benzalkonium chloride 0.13% . All anesthethetic gels aren’t suitable to be used inside the mouth, so always read the label before use.

Read more: What is twilight anesthesia

Ice packs 

You can apply an ice pack or ice wrapped in cloth on the skin adjacent to the painful tooth. Apply it for 15 min with 15 min intervals for 5-6 times day. 

Saltwater rinses 

Warm saline rinses are very effective for wisdom tooth pain. Add a teaspoon of sea salt to half a glass of water. Sip it and hold it in the mouth for 30 sec. Salt is a natural disinfectant. It reduces bacterial load and gives you pain relief. Repeat it 5-6 times a day. You can also use 0.2% Chlorhexidine mouthwash instead.

Chewing raw onion

Chewing a raw onion slice also relieves pain. Raw onion contains flavonoid – quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and gives prompt relief from pain due to tooth deacy.

Clove or clove oil

Clove is available in every home and is an effective remedy for wisdom tooth pain. Holding a clove between the teeth releases eugenol and other anti-inflammatory substances. Eugenol is a natural anesthetic and relieves pain for 1-2 hours. 

You can also use clove oil instead. Mix 5-6 drops of clove oil with a teaspoon of any carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut, and apply it on the tooth and gums. Clove oil is very concentrated and potent and can damage your damage your gums, so dilute it before use. A drop of clove oil is 400 times more powerful as an antioxidant than wild berries and blueberries.   


Garlic is a natural antibiotic and helps against wisdom tooth pain. Garlic contains sulphur containing compound, allicin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

In a study, garlic extract containing allicin (220μg/ml) inhibited the growth of gram negative bacteria, resposible for pericoronitis and tooth decay.

You can chew a garlic clove, or place chopped garlic on the painful tooth. Chopping a fresh garlic clove activates allicin that fights against disease. 

Cinnamon powder and honey paste 

Honey and cinnamon have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and work wonders for toothache. 

Mix one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and place it on the painful thrice daily. If you don’t have cinnamon powder, you can apply honey to the inflamed gums. Honey contains an enzyme glucose oxidase that produces hydrogen peroxide from water. Hydrogen peroxide kills and inhibits the growth and speeds up the healing process. 


How long does wisdom tooth pain last?

Pericoronitis pain lasts for 3-4 days. Warm saline rinses and a soft diet help calm down the inflamed tissues. Maintaining oral hygiene and keeping the inflamed tissues clean help reverse the symptoms of pericoronitis. Use an extra-soft bristles toothbrush and interdental brush to clean the area. 

How to ease wisdom tooth pain while pregnant?

You can use any of the above home remedies for pain relief. However, avoid Advil, Aleve, and antibiotics during pregnancy, as they can harm the developing fetus. Paracetamol is the safest medication for expecting mothers if taken in moderation.

It is always best to avoid medication during the first trimester when the baby’s organs are developing. 

Surgery is often delayed until delivery or the end of the first trimester unless necessary.

How to ease wisdom tooth pain after surgery?

Mild to moderate pain is expected after the surgery due to the trauma and injury to the tissues. Your dentist will prescribe pain medication for pain relief. If you don’t have a prescription, talk to the pharmacist nearby or call the dental office. 

You can also take Advil 400mg, aspirin 500mg, Aleve 220mg or paracetamol 500mg after every 6 hours for 2-3 days. Don’t take advil, aspirn and aleve together, as they belong to same group (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and can result in severe side effects. Moreover, warm saline rinses 3-5 times a day expedite the healing process. 

How long should I wait to smoke after a wisdom tooth extraction?

You should wait for at least 3-4 days after a simple extraction and 5-7 days after a surgical extraction. If you’re a smoker, you are at 13% higher risk of developing dry socket, a post-surgical complication due to immature clot dislodgement from the socket.

Lower wisdom tooth extraction is more likely to get dry socket. The symptoms of dry socket begins 24-48 hours after extraction with severe pain in the socket. Smoking during the initial healing period will double the risk of getting dry socket.

I have a painful, impacted wisdom tooth, but I don’t want surgery. What should I do?

If the tooth is partially impacted and you’re having frequent episodes of pericoronitis, removing the gum flap may relieve your pain. However, the flap can grow back.. 

The impacted wisdom tooth surgery isn’t always be painful. If you have a vertical soft-tissue impaction (the tooth lies vertically, partially above the gums) with uncomplicated root anatomy, extraction won’t cause you much trouble. However, forward or backward-tilted teeth with curved roots may need surgical extraction. During surgical extraction, bone is removed with a bur to facilitate the tooth removal in one piece and to avoid any damage to the adjacent nerves and blood vessels in lower teeth and sinus perforation in upper teeth. 

Discuss with your dentist in detail about all the treatment options. 

How long does it take for the pain of the wisdom tooth to subside?

Acute pericoronitis is relatively short and lasts for 3 to 4 days. However, a deep cavity won’t heal unless the tooth is removed or treated with a root canal treatment.

Why is a wisdom tooth so painful?

Wisdom tooth pain is often painful because it lies near the joint, and infection can quickly spread to muscles, joints and other facial spaces leading to difficulty in mouth opening, severe pain, swelling, and sometimes fever and enlarged lymph nodes.

How long does the pain last after wisdom tooth extraction?

It depends on how traumatic your surgery is going to be. After a simple extraction, the pain will go away in 5-7 days. Your dentist will prescribe you pain medication that will lower the inflammation and relieve your pain. Surgical extraction takes 2-3 weeks to heal. Take some rest and provide your body with nutrients to facilitate the healing process. 

Why am I still having pain 3 weeks after wisdom tooth extraction?

Wisdom tooth extraction takes long to heal, especially when the tooth is surgically removed. Surgical extraction causes more trauma to the tissues. Soft tissue and bone cutting are done to remove the tooth. The larger the defect after the surgery, the longer it takes to heal the area. A larger defect may hurt from time to time and may take 2-3 weeks to heal. 

The third molar often causes pocketing or a cavity in the second molar (tooth next to the wisdom tooth). That can also be the reason why it hurts 3 weeks after wisdom tooth removal. 

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