Bad Wisdom Tooth? Sore Throat on One Side May be a Symptom

Published on: November 7, 2021 (Last modified on: May 5, 2023)
Woman suffering from pain caused by wisdom tooth.

The last large molars to arrive are the wisdom teeth. Most people do not receive their last four back molars until after the age of 17 and once they arrive, they can cause problems. Some wisdom teeth are proactively removed, but many people still have their back molars. Due to the far back position, wisdom teeth can affect the sinuses, throat and other oral and facial areas if they are unhealthy. If you have a bad wisdom tooth, sore throat on one side and other pain symptoms may occur, indicating you need dental care.

Understanding Wisdom Teeth

At the ends of the lower and upper sets of teeth are positions of the four last molars, the wisdom teeth. These are very large molars with up to four roots in each tooth, requiring a larger space than other teeth. Most people receive their last molars from ages 17 to 25, but it can occur before or after this time frame – a small number of people do not ever get their wisdom teeth. Due to changes in the size and shape of the mouth over centuries of evolution, many people have limited room for these large molars when they arrive.

When a mouth is too small or narrow, or there are other oral problems, wisdom teeth may become impacted. This means they do not emerge completely from the gum tissue. Some wisdom teeth may grow in sideways or not emerge at all. Impacted wisdom teeth may not cause problems right away, but they are more difficult to clean and keep healthy. It is common for dentists to recommend removing impacted wisdom teeth proactively to avoid complications. However, if they are left alone, they may eventually have problems.

Impacted Wisdom Tooth Pain Symptoms

When a wisdom tooth is impacted, there is often a flap of tissue around where the tooth should have emerged. This is a convenient place for bacteria to hide and it is difficult to keep this area clean. Abscesses or tooth infections can occur with impacted wisdom teeth, which can cause many symptoms and possible health issues. The bacteria can spread to other areas like the throat and beyond. Wisdom tooth pain symptoms may include:

  • Toothache
  • Headaches
  • Jaw or facial pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Gum tissue swelling and tenderness

These pain symptoms can indicate a problem with your wisdom tooth, but there are other possible conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Another tooth may be infected, or you may have issues with your jaw joint (TMJ) or bite alignment. A dentist can perform an exam to determine what is causing your pain symptoms and recommend the right treatment.

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Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Sore Throat?

Another possible sign of an infected wisdom tooth is a sore throat. If you have an impacted wisdom tooth, a sore throat on one side can be a sign that it is infected. Most likely you will have some of the other symptoms already discussed – if there is a severe, spreading infection into the throat, you may have a fever. If your wisdom tooth is causing a sore throat, it is likely it is infected and needs to be removed. This infection could continue to spread and cause more serious problems than a sore throat, so it is important to see a dentist if you are experiencing symptoms of an infected wisdom tooth.

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Tonsils to Swell?

When wisdom teeth begin to grow, they can cause significant discomfort and pressure at the back of the mouth. This pressure can sometimes affect the nearby tonsils, leading to inflammation and swelling. This condition is called pericoronitis.

Pericoronitis occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth becomes infected or inflamed. This can happen when food particles and bacteria get trapped between the gum and the tooth. The swollen gum tissue can then push against the tonsils, causing them to become inflamed and painful.

Treatment for Painful Wisdom Teeth

While most teeth that become infected are treated with root canal therapy, this is not standard procedure for wisdom teeth. An infected wisdom tooth is usually extracted, especially if it is impacted. You do not need your wisdom teeth for chewing or the aesthetics of your smile. Many people have these last molars removed as soon as they arrive to avoid any complications from decay, infections or gum disease.
Man suffering from pain caused by wisdom tooth.
If you have wisdom tooth pain symptoms or a sore throat, these symptoms can be resolved with wisdom tooth removal. Your dentist can discuss different options – many people have all their wisdom tooth removed. Once the infected or impacted tooth is removed and the infection is cleared, your pain and other symptoms should go away. After a few days of rest after your procedure, your mouth will heal, and you should not have lingering symptoms from your tooth infection.

Can wisdom teeth cause a sore throat? Absolutely, but they are not the only oral health issue that can result in a sore throat. If you have wisdom tooth pain symptoms and a sore throat, you should schedule a checkup with your dentist. If you have an impacted or infected wisdom tooth, you will need treatment to stop the infection to protect your health and relieve your pain. Wisdom tooth removal is usually the best option to protect your health and stop your pain symptoms.

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