Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain? Understanding the Link

Did you know that your jaw has a lot of muscles?

There’s a jaw muscle named the temporalis that helps us chew food and speak clearly. Unfortunately, some people have wisdom teeth that prevent them from having the perfect jawline. But, can wisdom teeth cause jaw pain?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are extra teeth in the back of your mouth. Most adults have 32 teeth, but some people have a different set of teeth that, once they grow in, might cause jaw pain.

Keep reading to learn about wisdom teeth and the jaw pain scenario.

The Anatomy of Wisdom Teeth

We will explore the relationship between wisdom teeth and jaw pain. But first, it’s essential to understand the basic anatomy of these late-blooming molars. Most individuals have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw (maxillary third molars) and two in the lower jaw (mandibular third molars).

These teeth are vestigial remnants from our evolutionary past. This is when our ancestors required these extra molars to grind down tough, fibrous plant material. But, they’re not very useful anymore since our diets have changed.

The Emergence of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth typically begin to emerge in a person’s late teens or early twenties. This process is known as eruption, and you can associate this with various complications due to the limited space in the human jaw.

The jaw’s size has decreased over time as our diets have become softer. This makes it challenging for wisdom teeth to fit comfortably.

How Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Jaw Pain?

One of the most common issues associated with wisdom teeth is jaw pain. Several factors contribute to this connection:


Wisdom teeth often don’t have enough room to emerge properly. When they become stuck in the jawbone or gum tissue, they’re considered impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can exert pressure on the surrounding tissues, leading to jaw pain.


Impacted wisdom teeth are more susceptible to infection due to their location and difficulty in cleaning. Infections in the surrounding gum tissue and jawbone can cause severe pain, swelling, and discomfort.


As wisdom teeth attempt to erupt, they can cause inflammation in the surrounding tissues. This inflammation can lead to tooth pain and discomfort in the jaw.


Wisdom teeth sometimes emerge at an angle, pressing against neighboring teeth. This misalignment can result in jaw pain as the pressure on adjacent teeth and the jawbone increases.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Wisdom teeth can exacerbate teeth grinding (bruxism) issues. When they come in at an awkward angle or push against neighboring teeth, it can trigger grinding. This can lead to jaw pain and further dental problems.

Cyst Formation

In rare cases, cysts may develop around impacted wisdom teeth. These cysts can cause significant pain and discomfort in the jaw and surrounding areas.

Signs and Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth-Related Jaw Pain

If you suspect that your jaw pain may be related to your wisdom teeth, there are specific signs and symptoms to look out for. One sign of wisdom teeth-related jaw pain is a persistent or sharp pain in the back of your mouth. This often occurs on one or both sides.

There may also be swelling and tenderness in the gums and jaw. You may also find it difficult to open your mouth fully.

Pain or discomfort when chewing or biting down can also indicate wisdom teeth-related jaw pain. This can come with headaches and earaches that seem to originate from the jaw area.

For some, they may experience an unpleasant taste or odor in their mouth. This can be a sign of infection. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult with a dentist or oral surgeon for a thorough evaluation.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing the source of jaw pain related to wisdom teeth typically involves a combination of a clinical examination and dental imaging. X-rays and, in some cases, 3D imaging may be necessary to determine the position, alignment, and condition of your wisdom teeth. Treatment options for wisdom teeth-related jaw pain can vary based on the severity of the issue.


Are your wisdom teeth not causing any immediate problems and are not expected to in the future? If so, your dentist may recommend monitoring them regularly to ensure they don’t cause issues later on.


The most common treatment for problematic wisdom teeth is extraction. This procedure is typically done by an oral surgeon or dentist. Depending on the complexity of the extraction, it may be done under local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia.


There may be cases where there is an infection or inflammation. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications. This will ease the pain and discomfort.

Palliative Care

In some instances, you can manage symptoms with pain relievers and warm compresses. This may provide temporary relief while a treatment plan is developed.

Cyst Removal

If cysts have formed around impacted wisdom teeth, surgical removal of the cysts may be necessary. This will relieve pain and prevent further complications.

If your jaw pain continues even after dealing with your wisdom teeth, you might need to consult with a TMJ specialist in Raleigh NC. They are experts in treating TMJ pain and disorders related to the jaw joint.

Preventing Wisdom Teeth-Related Jaw Pain

You cannot control the natural emergence of wisdom teeth. But, there are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of experiencing jaw pain associated with them:

Regular Dental Check-ups

Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and X-rays. They will track the development and positioning of your wisdom teeth.

If your dentist identifies potential issues with your wisdom teeth, consider addressing them early. This will prevent complications.

Good Oral Hygiene

Maintain excellent oral hygiene to reduce the risk of infections and inflammation around your wisdom teeth. This includes regular brushing, flossing, and using an antiseptic mouthwash.

Consult With a Specialist

If you experience persistent or severe jaw pain, seek advice from an oral surgeon or dental specialist. They can provide a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan.

Schedule a Check-up Today

Can wisdom teeth cause jaw pain? Wisdom teeth can cause jaw pain, and understanding the link between the two is crucial for proper detection and treatment. If you are experiencing jaw pain and have not had your wisdom teeth evaluated, it is crucial to do so.

Don’t let jaw pain go untreated. Schedule your appointment today. Remember, oral health is vital for a pain-free and comfortable life.

If you’re on the lookout for a reliable dental expert, you can check out this dentist in Las Vegas NV now. For more helpful, interesting, and fascinating reading, keep exploring our blog for more!