As the last teeth to emerge into the mouth, wisdom teeth can be the source of a lot of problems. Because they typically don't develop until ages 17-24, they may not have enough room to grow in, causing painful impaction of the teeth. This means that these four wisdom teeth may only partially come through into the mouth, or in some cases, not at all.
Wisdom teeth are the source of many aches and pains, and removal is typically the best option to relieve symptoms of impaction. What may not be commonly known is their ability to affect other regions of the body, causing symptoms of headaches and neck pain. This article will strive to provide answers to those who are wondering about the full range of wisdom tooth pain, including lesser known symptoms like headaches and neck pain.
Is it True That Wisdom Teeth Can Cause Headaches and Neck Pain?
In short, absolutely. As wisdom teeth slowly grow into maturation, they can have some potentially significant—and painful—effects on the rest of your body. With decreased room to grow, wisdom teeth create natural tension. This slowly building tension can spread from your gums, into your jaw, and across other areas of your body.
How Do They Cause this Pain?
Headaches come as a result of tension and irregular pressure in your jaw. As wisdom teeth grow in, they may cause your other teeth to shift in order to make room. Sometimes this results in what dentists call a “gum pouch.” This is a small, painful pouch that results from an infection caused by a wisdom tooth trying to come through.
As a result, your jaw position and your bite may be forced to change in an attempt to avoid unnecessary pain. While adjusting your jaw position may save you from biting down on a swollen and painful gum pocket, you may be unknowingly causing further harm. Changing your bite pattern could shift your jaw joints into an unnatural position.
Those shifted jaw joints may become swollen and painful, and could get pushed against your ear muscles every time those joints are flexed. This is what causes a headache—direct and unnatural pressure against ear muscles due to a shifted jaw position and bite pattern.
Increased tension in your jaw can certainly spread to your neck, causing neck pain as well. That pressure can quickly spread from the back of your jaw to your lower neck, increasing overall pain, and perhaps inflaming headache symptoms, as well. Headaches and neck pain can be sure signs that a wisdom tooth has been infected, and needs removal.
What Are the Treatment Options for Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Treatment options are split into two groups: preventative treatment, and permanent relief. The best way to prevent wisdom teeth from becoming infected is to practice routine and thorough oral hygiene. Surrounding decay also causes many painful symptoms caused by wisdom teeth, or food and bacteria getting trapped around the tooth. Proper and thorough oral hygiene can act as good preventative measures for incoming wisdom teeth.
Unfortunately, the placement of wisdom teeth can make proper hygiene tough. Because they rest so far back in the jaw, they can be hard to clean. Additionally, there is not much to do for preventing pain from wisdom teeth—it's painful, but a relatively natural growth process.
Once impacted, or infected, the absolute best treatment is to have the affected teeth removed. Unfortunately, painkillers are only a temporary solution to what could become a permanent—and dangerous—problem. Left untreated, an impacted wisdom tooth could spread infections into the jaw muscles, which could travel into the brain. Keeping your body as healthy as possible can sometimes mean keeping your mouth as healthy as possible, too.
Not only will this alleviate painful symptoms, but removing wisdom teeth is the best way to prevent your body from developing an abnormal bite pattern. This will relieve tension headaches and neck pain, as well.
While wisdom teeth can indeed carry a host of painful symptoms and issues, the good news is that wisdom teeth pain is entirely treatable. You may not be able to prevent your wisdom teeth from coming in, but you can certainly avoid suffering unnecessary pain through wisdom teeth removal.
If you are suffering from headaches and neck pain, visit Water Tower Dental Care in Chicago today! We can help you determine if your wisdom teeth could be the cause.