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How long does wisdom tooth pain last after extraction?

  • Posted By: Dr. Jashim
  • Dental
How long does wisdom tooth pain last after extraction?

Table of content

1. What do wisdom teeth mean?

"How long does wisdom tooth pain last after extraction?" All of the 4 hindmost teeth. Which appear at the age of 20 and are known as wisdom teeth. The wisdom teeth are the farthest and the final set of teeth adjacent to molars that most people get in their late teens (17-20). Historically, these teeth have been called wisdom teeth, because they occur more at a mature age. From babyhood till adolescence, teeth erupt in stages:

  • First incisors (These are primary and permanent teeth in the front part and usually the most visible of all teeth in the mouth. Humans have a total of 8 such teeth— 2 on the left and 2 on the right  side as well as 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom),
  • Canines (Also called ‘cuspids’ which are relatively long pointed. Humans have normally 32 teeth. And of them, canines consist of 4 teeth—2 in the upper and 2 in the lower jaw which is used in grasping foods,)
  • Premolars (Also known as ‘bicuspids’. These are transitional teeth which are located between canines and molar teeth. In humans there are in total 8 premolars in the mouth— 2 premolars per quadrant),
  • Molars (These are large and flat teeth at the back of the mouth. They are used mainly for grinding food before chewing and swallowing) and finally 3rd molars or popularly known as wisdom teeth. Most people have 4 wisdom teeth, some have fewer and some have none. Some wisdom teeth partially erupt and some stay completely buried under the tissues.

2. What are the functional utilities of wisdom teeth?

When wisdom teeth appear correctly and in strong healthy form. Then they can be greatly used to grind hard foods and bones in addition to hard fruits, such as nuts, coconuts, sugarcane, etc. Additionally,  youths are sometimes found to cut ropes into pieces or extract the cork or cap, fixed to the mouth of bottles containing juice or soft drinks, with the help of wisdom teeth.

3. Why pain occurs in wisdom teeth?

In the normal condition of strong, healthy, and correctly positioned wisdom teeth. There is no dental problem and consequently, there arises no complaint about discomfort or pain. But sometimes due to the awkward positioning of the wisdom teeth, while eating, grinding, and chewing, food particles are deposited at the base. The deposited food particles cannot be cleaned for being trapped in between the teeth at the base level. As a result, dental problems arise one after another in terms of fungal infection, bad odor, and tooth decay. And in the initial stage one feels pain and discomfort while opening the mouth to eat or talk when it becomes essential to consult a dental surgeon for healing the pain.

4. How long does wisdom tooth pain last?

When wisdom teeth are impacted or crowded causing pain and oral discomfort. Dentists will then recommend whether to remove wisdom teeth or not. The impacted tooth gets blocked while it is erupting. Wisdom teeth are often impacted. These erupt through the gums and out into the open.

4.1) Types of impactions

There are 4 common types of impactions which are:

  • Horizontal impaction
  • Distal impaction
  • Vertical impaction
  • And Mesial impaction

4.1.1) Horizontal impaction

Horizontal impaction is the most painful type of impaction. The impacted wisdom teeth lie horizontally and push into the molar next to it. If anyone suffers from such impaction, he must immediately consult a physician or a dental surgeon.

An x-ray will help to determine whether there is horizontal impaction or not. In such cases, oral surgery may be recommended. Too much delay in surgery may invite the risk of damaging the surrounding teeth. After extraction of the impacted tooth through surgery, the dental surgeon may prescribe painkillers. Even antibiotics minimize the risk of complications while healing the pain.

4.1.2) Distal impaction

Distal impaction is the least common among all types of impactions. In such cases, the wisdom teeth are angled towards the back of the mouth. Extraction will depend on the degree of angle of the wisdom teeth.

4.1.3) Vertical impaction

Vertical impaction occurs when a tooth is angled in a state of almost vertical orientation. It may be slightly touching the tooth next to it. The chances of such vertical impaction are quite high, but it requires the least surgery. If surgery is required at all, then it is due to the impacted wisdom teeth causing pressure on the underside of the molar.

4.1.4) Mesial impaction

Mesial impaction is another impaction that occurs when the wisdom tooth is angled towards the front of the mouth. It is the most common type of impaction.

4.2) Removing affected wisdom teeth is the best option

Angle the impacted wisdom teeth reside determines whether. It is an issue to be considered for surgery or not. A partial eruption is commonly found when the back of the impacted tooth pokes into the gums. These types of impacts are usually monitored by dentists over some time. Which may go either way, i.e. extraction of the impacted wisdom teeth may or may not occur). Experts mostly believe that removal of impacted wisdom teeth is the best option instead of regularly taking pain killers only to nourish the pain creator. Normally one does not feel pain while extracting impacted wisdom teeth.

Because the area around the impacted teeth will be made anesthetic and hence turned into numb having no feeling at all. Pain will be felt only after the anesthetic impacts fully cease to exist.

However, some of the patients are found to get scared at the surgical treatment performed by the dental surgeon through the extraction of wisdom teeth. Reluctance or skipping out on account of fear and tension will simply create a lasting dental problem. Such fear or tension is more painful than the real pain during the post-surgical period.

4.3) Recovery of pain time 

After removal of wisdom teeth, recovery of pain takes normally 3—4 days, although it can be as long as one week depending on how awkwardly the wisdom teeth were erupting. Severity, as well as the duration of pain (after the wisdom teeth are extracted), varies from person to person depending on to what extent. And how many among the wisdom teeth have been impacted and damaged in addition to the age and general health condition of the patient. In this context severity and duration of post-surgical pain experienced by a few patients have been surveyed which are discussed in brief:

Survey results on patients experiencing pains after removal of wisdom teeth

  • In the case of a few other  patients  after removal of all the 4 impacted teeth, there was observed unbearable pain and sleepless nights for a week, still after medication
  • In another study, after removal of the impacted wisdom teeth, the pain was found to continue for 10 days or more, but not as severe as the condition deserving a  pain killer to take.
  • In a specific study on a patient (age late 40s) all the 4 wisdom teeth were surgically removed. After taking pain killer for a week, the pain subsided and swelling disappeared. The general physician checked the mouth and no oral infection was detected.
  • In another survey on 24 female patients, all 4 wisdom teeth were removed. The survey result reveals that it took around a week for the pain to be mitigated after taking sedatives, drinking plenty of water, and resting.
  • In another study on a patient (age 45) it is revealed that after having the wisdom teeth extracted, adversities came in battalions one after another, such as pain in the gum pocket emerging in the wake of extraction, headache, nausea, and stomach pain. After a few days, the pain subsided, although, not fully.

4.5) Factors affecting severity and duration of pain after wisdom teeth extraction

It has been mentioned that no 2 persons are alike in this world. Likewise, the severity and duration of pain in the wake of surgical extraction of wisdom teeth, to a large extent are influenced by medication, power, and dosage of antibiotics. Position of wisdom teeth erupted and to what extent the wisdom teeth have been impacted or damaged and last but not least the age factor as well as the general health condition of the patient. After extraction of teeth by the dental surgeon, the patient may be left with excruciating pain when usually, the pain killer ‘Acetaminophen’  is prescribed.

Additionally, one may also feel pain in the jaws and the cheeks. The pain may hinder the wide opening of the mouth to bruise or chew properly. Often the pain with continuous bleeding is supposed to subside within the next 2—3 days. In such cases, the type of wisdom teeth extracted will play a dominant role in the severity of pain.

  • 4.5.1) In the case of straight wisdom teeth (in such case wisdom teeth grow straight) the pain is expected to be less or moderate and reduce within a day or 2. But in the case of the removal of impacted teeth, excruciating pain Is inevitable. As the surgical procedure involved in extracting the impacted teeth is more complex.
  • 4.5.2) Even in the case of extraction of multiple wisdom teeth (in such case one may have more than 4 wisdom teeth, although it is rare),  pain is expected to diminish if the post-surgical care instructions are meticulously followed.
  • 4.5.3) A dry socket (the dry socket is created because, during the wisdom teeth removal surgery,  a hole is drilled into the bone to pull out the intended wisdom teeth) occurs about 3—4 days after the surgical operation when it may be very painful. A blood clot is formed in a natural process to protect the exposed bone and the nerves beneath. If the blood clot gets disrupted or dislodged, it can give rise to a very painful dry socket. In such a case, it becomes essential to consult a dental surgeon for treatment to hasten the healing process as soon as possible.
  • 4.5.4) There is no prescribed and fixed schedule for the pain to completely vanish after the wisdom teeth removal. Which to a considerable extent is influenced by a host of factors including tolerance strength of the patient as well as the extent of complexity of the surgical operation performed. In the absence of a dry socket, the pain is observed to completely vanish within 2 weeks from the day of the wisdom teeth extraction.
  • 4.5.5) Age is another factor influencing the severity as well as the duration of pain after the wisdom teeth are extracted. The older the patient is, the stronger are the roots of the impacted wisdom teeth and therefore, pain is likely to be severer and stay longer.

Useful link: How to whiten teeth

5. Remarks

5.1) Anthropologists believe that the wisdom teeth were the indispensable instrument to the human beings of prehistoric age for consuming rough and uncooked foods, mainly roots, leaves, nuts, raw meat which require more grinding before swallowing the food

5.2) Wisdom teeth indicate oral strength as well as self-confidence to grind, chew and swallow any type of food and fruit.  

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Authored By Dr. Hassan Riaz


Dr. Hassan Riaz – a dedicated, compassionate healthcare professional with a strong dentistry background, specializing in preventive oral health. With extensive experience in teaching medical and dental students, he currently holds the position of Program Coordinator and Associate Lecturer in Physiology at the Shifa Institute of Medical Technology in Islamabad.


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