Wisdom teeth or third molars usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 21, according to the American Dental Association, and in spite of their name they do little that benefits your knowledge. What they often do, however, is cause dental problems such as tooth decay, impaction, cysts, and overcrowding of the mouth. It's also possible to develop a wisdom teeth headache.
How Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches
When wisdom teeth erupt in the late teens, adjacent molars are already in place and well-established. With the new teeth pushing to come through or are below the gumline, they may apply unusual pressure on nearby teeth and possibly even cause them to shift to make space. Erupted wisdom teeth partially covered by gum are called a soft tissue impaction, while a full or partial bony impaction occurs when the tooth is impacted in bone. Some of the side effects of impacted third molars include:
- Swollen and bleeding gums
- Jaw swelling and stiffness
- Bad breath and unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
In a case study reported by the International Journal of Oral Care and Research, one patient with impacted inverted third molars endured a barrage of symptoms including ear pain, facial numbness and headaches.
If your dentist or oral surgeon concludes that your wisdom teeth must be extracted, wisdom teeth headaches may persist after surgery due to the after effects of the anesthesia. According to the Mayo Clinic, side effects of general anesthesia include feeling groggy, confused and nauseous, which may make it feel like your head is spinning. The National Institutes of Health lists headaches as one of the side effects of conscious sedation.
When to See a Dentist
Young adults who have regular headaches should consider whether their wisdom teeth could be a factor. If your wisdom teeth have either not yet erupted or are in the process of doing so, or even if they have erupted but have not been removed, it's possible you might be experiencing a wisdom teeth headache. Make an appointment with your dentist to conduct a full examination of your mouth. In the run-up to your appointment, maintain your regular oral hygiene routine, and if you experience gum pain or foul-smelling breath, swish with a rinse like Colgate Total Mouthwash for Gum Health, which kills 99 percent of germs on contact. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, may help reduce the impact of headaches on your daily activities.
If you still have headaches post-extraction, consult a doctor.
Headaches are unpleasant, regardless of the cause. A wisdom teeth headache is one type that can be treated successfully, so if your symptoms fit the criteria for this condition don't waste any time getting dental care for the problem.