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Signs Your Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed

Published: Jul 15, 2023 Last Updated: Dec 14, 2023
Man with pain from his wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last set of teeth to emerge in the back of the mouth, typically between the ages of 17 and 25. While some people experience trouble-free wisdom tooth eruption, many individuals face complications that necessitate their removal.

How to Recognize the Warning Signs

Recognizing the warning signs early on can help prevent potential dental problems and ensure optimal oral health. In this blog, we will educate you about the common signs and symptoms that indicate your wisdom teeth may need to be extracted, such as pain, swelling, and gum irritation.

Persistent or Intense Pain in the Back of the Mouth

Persistent or intense pain in the back of the mouth is often the first indication that something is amiss with your wisdom teeth. As these third molars attempt to emerge, they may encounter obstacles, such as limited space in the jaw or being positioned at an angle that makes their proper eruption difficult.

Impacted wisdom teeth can exert pressure on the surrounding gum tissue and other teeth, leading to pain and discomfort. The intensity of the pain can vary from mild to severe and may worsen while chewing or applying pressure on the affected area. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can cause further complications, such as cyst formation or damage to adjacent teeth.

Swelling and Tenderness in the Jaw and Gums

Swelling and tenderness in the jaw and gums are common symptoms associated with impacted or infected wisdom teeth. As the molars try to emerge, they may only partially break through the gum line, leaving a flap of gum tissue covering part of the tooth. This flap can easily trap food debris and bacteria, leading to irritation and inflammation.

In some cases, the trapped food particles can promote bacterial growth, resulting in an infection called pericoronitis. Pericoronitis is characterized by significant swelling, redness, tenderness, and sometimes the presence of pus around the affected tooth. If not addressed promptly, the infection can spread, causing additional health complications.

Gum Irritation and Bleeding

Wisdom teeth that only partially erupt can create openings in the gum tissue where bacteria can accumulate, leading to gum irritation and bleeding. The gums surrounding the partially erupted tooth may appear swollen and red, and they might bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing.

The presence of bleeding gums should not be ignored, as it can indicate inflammation and potential infection. If you notice persistent gum irritation or bleeding in the back of your mouth, it’s essential to consult a dentist for a comprehensive evaluation.

Difficulty in Opening Your Mouth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause inflammation and swelling in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues, resulting in difficulty in fully opening the mouth. Trismus, also known as “lockjaw,” refers to the limited range of motion in the jaw and can make everyday activities like eating and speaking uncomfortable.

Trismus can also impact your ability to maintain proper oral hygiene, leading to an increased risk of dental issues in the affected area. Difficulty in opening your mouth, coupled with other signs like pain and swelling, can be a strong indicator that your wisdom teeth need attention.


In conclusion, recognizing the warning signs of problematic wisdom teeth is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health. Persistent or intense pain, swelling, tenderness in the jaw and gums, gum irritation, bleeding, and difficulty in opening your mouth are all potential signs that your wisdom teeth may need to be removed.

Early detection and timely intervention can help prevent complications such as infections, cysts, and damage to adjacent teeth. Regular dental check-ups and x-rays play a pivotal role in identifying wisdom tooth-related issues before they escalate.

If you experience any of these warning signs, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a qualified dentist or oral surgeon. They can conduct a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatment, which may involve wisdom tooth extraction to preserve the health and integrity of your smile.

Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene and addressing dental concerns promptly are essential in ensuring a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. By staying vigilant and seeking professional dental care, you can protect your oral health and enjoy a confident smile for years to come. Visit MP Orthodontics today!

MP Orthodontics is an orthodontic practice based in Cheltenham, Melbourne. Working from the belief that orthodontic treatment is much more than working with teeth and creating smiles, treating orthodontists – Dr Martin Poon and Dr Geoff Hall – approach patients as people first. Their approach is to work together and plan and implement treatment that meets each individual’s needs. Drawing on 30 plus years experience of helping children gain confidence through tailored treatment, MP Orthodontics, is a truly unique orthodontic practice.

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