Not everyone has the same experience with wisdom teeth, even though everyone starts to get them during adolescence. In some cases, wisdom teeth erupt with little muss or fuss, while others end up dealing with the many issues related to impacted wisdom teeth.
Like teething babies, most of us experience some amount of pain or at least discomfort as wisdom teeth grow, and many people experience symptoms like swelling and redness of gums, swelling of the jaw, and even pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Difficulties eating and sometimes speaking are not totally uncommon.
Serious symptoms are most often associated with impacted wisdom teeth and they can get even worse if infection sets in, causing pain, swelling, fever, and more. In addition, you may experience headaches when wisdom teeth are coming in. Are headaches a common symptom or should you assume the two are unrelated?
When is a Headache Just a Headache?
Just because your wisdom teeth are coming in, or because they are impacted, doesn’t necessarily mean they are to blame for headaches. In some cases, you may simply be prone to headaches. Keep in mind that adolescence is also a time when the body is developing and hormones run wild, so headaches could be related to something else.
That said, it is not uncommon to experience headaches associated with the growth of wisdom teeth. As wisdom teeth come in, you may adjust your bite to accommodate the discomfort in the back of your mouth. This is particularly common in cases where wisdom teeth are impacted, infected, and causing you pain.
When you compensate for pain by adjusting your jaw and your bite, your TMJ can become stressed or even dislocated. This, in turn, can demand extra work from surrounding muscles, which can get overworked and start to spasm. From there, it’s no surprise that pain results, radiating through the neck, face, and head and causing headaches.
What Can You Do?
OTC painkillers like NSAIDs and aspirin will only go so far. Whether you’re dealing with impacted, infected, or merely painful wisdom teeth that are causing headaches, the best solution, generally speaking, is to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Even when teeth erupt perfect and pain-free, many dentists recommend removing them because they are so difficult to clean and maintain. Rather than waiting for cavities and other issues to develop down the line, you may simply want to remove wisdom teeth early. This is also the best way to avoid pain and headaches related to wisdom teeth once they start to grow.