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Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?

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Woman holding her jaw in pain.

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to develop in the back corners of your mouth. Unlike other teeth, wisdom teeth often do not have enough space to emerge properly, leading to several dental complications:

  • Impaction: When wisdom teeth are trapped beneath the gum line or against other teeth.
  • Partial Eruption: When wisdom teeth partially break through the gum, making them prone to infection.
  • Crowding: When wisdom teeth push against existing teeth, causing alignment issues.

Wisdom teeth do generally not cause TMJ disorders, but can cause issues such as infection or reabsorption of the 12 year molars if they are impacted. Problems with wisdom teeth may exacerbate existing TMJ disorder symptoms, or cause TMJ disorder-like pain. 

If you are experiencing jaw pain, book an appointment with our dental team to get relief and avoid any potential long term damage. We have two convenient Toronto locations – Arch Dental King West and Liberty Village

How Wisdom Teeth Can Affect the TMJ

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull and allows for the movement necessary for chewing and speaking. TMJ disorders can cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles controlling jaw movement. While wisdom teeth do not directly cause TMJ disorders, they can contribute to or exacerbate TMJ symptoms in several ways:

  • Pressure and Pain: Impacted wisdom teeth can create pressure and pain in the jaw area. This discomfort can extend to the temporomandibular joint, leading to TMJ-like symptoms.
  • Misalignment: As wisdom teeth try to emerge, they can push other teeth out of alignment. A misaligned bite can increase stress on the TMJ, potentially causing or worsening TMJ disorders.
  • Inflammation: Infections around partially erupted wisdom teeth can lead to inflammation. This inflammation can spread to nearby areas, including the TMJ, contributing to joint pain and dysfunction.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

If your wisdom teeth are impacting your TMJ, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Aching pain in and around the ear
  • Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
  • Locking of the jaw joint
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw

Our team at Arch Dental can help to identify the source of your pain and tailor a custom treatment plan to help you feel better.

Image showing the different orientations of impacted wisdom teeth.

Managing Wisdom Teeth and TMJ Symptoms

If you suspect that your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, or that you are otherwise experiencing jaw issues, it’s important to consult with one of our dentists at Arch Dental. We can assess your oral health and recommend appropriate treatments, which may include:

  • Regular Monitoring: Routine dental check-ups at Arch Dental to monitor the position and health of your wisdom teeth and TMJ.
  • Medication: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications to manage symptoms.
  • Dental Procedures: Extraction of impacted wisdom teeth to alleviate pressure and prevent further complications.
  • Therapies: Physical therapy, jaw exercises, and bite guards to manage TMJ symptoms.

Tooth Extraction Process

If a wisdom tooth extraction is necessary, our dentistry team at Arch Dental will ensure you’re comfortable and informed throughout the process. For wisdom teeth, this may involve:

Local or General Anesthesia: To minimize pain and discomfort.

Simple or Surgical Extraction: Depending on whether the tooth is fully erupted or impacted.

Aftercare: Following specific instructions to manage recovery and prevent complications.

Preventive Measures for Wisdom Tooth Pain

Taking preventive measures can help manage the impact of wisdom teeth on your TMJ and overall oral health:

Routine Dental Visits: Regular check-ups at Arch Dental allow your dentist to monitor your wisdom teeth and TMJ, catching potential issues early.

Good Oral Hygiene: Maintaining proper oral hygiene can prevent infections and reduce inflammation around emerging wisdom teeth.

Early Intervention: If you notice symptoms of TMJ disorders or discomfort from your wisdom teeth, seek early intervention from Arch Dental.

Wisdom Tooth Removal at Arch Dental

Wisdom teeth can potentially contribute to the symptoms of TMJ disorders, particularly if they are impacted, misaligned, or causing inflammation. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking timely dental advice can help manage both wisdom teeth and TMJ issues effectively. If you’re experiencing jaw pain or suspect a problem with either your TMJ or wisdom teeth, contact us for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.Contact our team at Arch Dental today to schedule an appointment and learn more about managing wisdom teeth and TMJ disorders.

Written by Arch Dental

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