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

Woman with Jaw PainWhen it comes to tooth pain, it is often difficult for patients to discern whether impacted wisdom teeth or a dental abscess causes their discomfort. If you are experiencing tooth pain—especially for prolonged periods of time, you need to schedule an oral examination as soon as possible. Our oral surgeons offer insight on the types of symptoms associated with wisdom tooth impaction and dental abscesses.

What does it mean when a wisdom tooth is impacted?

Wisdom teeth are the most commonly extracted teeth. They are surgically removed for many reasons. Most of the time, wisdom teeth do emerge through the gum tissue properly. This is typically because there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate them. Lacking room to emerge, wisdom teeth tend to become impacted, which means portions of the tooth or the entire tooth becomes stuck in the gums. An impacted tooth increases a patient’s risk for dental caries and gum disease. Due to the location of wisdom teeth and the likelihood of improper eruption, keeping these teeth clean is incredibly difficult. If a wisdom tooth is impacted, patients may experience nagging discomfort when chewing food, drinking or eating hot and cold beverages, and aching, dull pain from time to time. Since wisdom teeth are not vital to healthy oral function, it is best to have them surgically removed to prevent complications in the future.

What is a dental abscess?

An abscess is an infection caused by severe decay. The most common areas where an abscess can develop are between the gum line and the tooth and at the roots of teeth. In addition to being caused by decay, abscesses can be caused by periodontal disease and dental injuries. Abscesses can produce severe discomfort, sensitivity to foods and beverages, and open sores in the mouth. When an abscess is present, tooth extraction is often recommended, along with treating any neighboring tissue affected by the infection.

While an impacted wisdom tooth and dental abscesses produce very similar symptoms, the best way to determine the cause of your tooth pain is to schedule an oral checkup. Contact any of our four convenient locations today to reserve your appointment.