Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?

A temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can be incredibly painful. They often cause a deep, radiating ache that spreads from the jaw, up to the ear, and along the side of the person’s face. Can wisdom teeth cause TMJ?

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?

TMJ disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, but they all result in damage to or the erosion of the temporomandibular joint. As a result, your wisdom teeth cannot cause TMJ because they do not affect this joint. However, impacted wisdom teeth may cause pain that feels very similar to that described by patients who have a true temporomandibular joint disorder.

The Problem with Wisdom Teeth

Your wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to come in. They typically start to emerge in your late teens through your early twenties. For some people, the process is much the same as with the rest of their teeth. There’s room for the wisdom teeth to come in naturally without affecting the position of any other teeth. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many people.

The current theory is that the average person doesn’t have room for their final molars as a result of evolution. Skeletal remains show that the average human jaw has decreased in size over the last several millennia, probably as a result of a softening diet. The foods we eat today simply don’t require the same jaw strength. The theory continues that wisdom teeth are a residual feature from our ancient ancestors who needed a larger jaw as well as an extra set of molars to grind through their own, tougher diet.

Patients who have a smaller jaw and still develop wisdom teeth are kind of stuck. Their wisdom teeth have nowhere to go when they try to emerge. These are called impacted wisdom teeth, and they can create a whole host of problems if they aren’t removed. Fortunately, your cosmetic dentist in Irvine is ready to help.

Removing Your Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth may be unable to erupt, or they may erupt at an angle. This can cause pain similar to TMJ, physical damage to the surrounding teeth, and make you more susceptible to infection. As a result, dentists typically suggest that patients with impacted wisdom teeth simply have them removed. It is the easiest way to stop current symptoms and protect your oral health long-term.

Depending on the current state of your wisdom teeth, your wisdom teeth removal in OC could look a bit different. In some cases, the teeth are severely impacted and unable to emerge past the gumline. So, you may require general anesthesia, which will cause you to lose consciousness for the duration of the procedure. In cases where it is deemed safe and appropriate, a local anesthetic may be all that is necessary.

As always, surgical procedures come with a modicum of risks. Infection is the primary concern given the amount of bacteria found in the oral cavity, but serious complications are rare. Once your wisdom teeth have been removed and the gumline has been sterilized and sealed, your oral surgeon will pack your mouth full of gauze and send you off to recovery.

Recovering from Extractions

It’s always a good idea to have a ride home set up if you’ve been dosed with any kind of anesthesia. Still, it is absolutely necessary if you’ve been under general anesthesia. It may take you a little while to get your bearings, but you’ll feel more like yourself pretty quickly.

The most important thing to keep in mind post-extraction is keeping your mouth clean and not disturbing your stitches. This generally means a liquid diet without the use of a straw for a few days and a little more gauze than you probably expected. Don’t worry, your oral surgeon and your dentist will explain everything to you given your personal case, making it easy to ensure your mouth heals quickly and properly.