What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt inside our mouth. Many times, these teeth never erupt at all and remain embedded within our jawbones. The latter are known as “impacted wisdom teeth”, and they can cause a myriad of dental health issues inside the mouth.
Most people eventually have their wisdom teeth removed during their teenage years to prevent issues from occurring as they get older. Having these teeth removed at an early age provides two benefits: faster healing and prevention of health problems.
Can wisdom teeth cause ear pain?
The short answer to this question is yes, they can. But we have to delve deep to find out why this happens. Inside of our lower jawbone we have the primary nerve that provides sensation to our teeth. This nerve (known as the Inferior Alveolar Nerve) also runs through the area of our ears. Since the nerve runs in the vicinity of both the wisdom tooth and the ear, you can see why a cavity, crack, or infection in our wisdom tooth can relay itself into an earache. In some cases, you may also feel ear pressure throughout the ear as well.
Not all ear aches originate from our wisdom teeth, but if your physician is not noticing any disease originating from the ear itself, you may want to check with a dentist to see if your wisdom teeth are the culprit to the problem.
How do I resolve my ear pain if it’s caused by a wisdom tooth?
Unfortunately, most times the only solution to this problem is for a clinician to remove your wisdom tooth. Remember that after the extraction the pain may not immediately go away. It normally takes 1-2 weeks after the procedure for the body to resolve the each pain altogether.
If the area of the wisdom tooth is severely infection, some dentists will initially prescribe an antibiotic to get the swelling under control. This antibiotic may also help with the ear pain that you are suffering from.
Pericoronitis and ear pain
Pericoronitis is an inflammatory condition seen with erupted or partially erupted wisdom teeth where the soft tissue overlying the tooth gets red and inflamed. The swelling can be caused by bacteria or from the opposing wisdom tooth irritating it during the chewing process. This condition has also been linked to ear pain. It is either resolved through the extraction of the lower wisdom teeth, or through a procedure called an operculectomy, where the gum tissue is excised. Most times, the former procedure is what’s is needed for the ear pain to go away.
The wisdom teeth removal process:
If you are curious on how wisdom teeth are removed, let’s break down the steps needed to rid you of this terrible ear ache that you have been suffering from.
- Local anesthetic is used to numb the wisdom tooth
- Your dentist will use a scalpel to reflect your gum tissue back
- A dental handpiece will then be used to section the wisdom tooth into pieces for removal. At the same time, some bone tissue may also be removed
- The tooth is removed with dental instruments used by your dentist
- The area is cleaned and irrigated with normal saline
- A suture is placed that is normally dissolvable in nature
- Medications are prescribed after the procedure to prevent pain and infection
If you are suffering from pericoronitis and are wondering how the procedure is resolved, let’s go through the steps now:
- Local anesthesia is used to numb the area.
- A scalpel is used to remove the inflamed tissue
- A machine called an electrosurg is used to cauterize the area to prevent any excess bleeding
- The area is irrigated with saline after the tissue has been removed
- A mouthwash, antibiotics, and pain medication are given to prevent pain and infection after the procedure
Now that you know why wisdom teeth cause ear aches, it’s time for you to pay a visit with your dentist to resolve your problem as soon as possible. If you happen to be in the Houston, TX area call our surgery team today to make an appointment. We hope to see you soon!