Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth Coming In? What You Need to Know

Wisdom teeth are one of the biggest mysteries of the mouth. Why? Because we don’t know exactly when and how they’re going to grace us with their presence. Every person has a different experience with wisdom teeth and there aren’t any hard or fast rules to when or how they’ll come in. Some people don’t even have wisdom teeth! Knowing what to expect and what to look for can help you avoid pain, problems and expensive procedures.

by Dr. Burhenne

Wisdom Teeth Coming In? What You Need to Know

Wisdom teeth are one of the biggest mysteries of the mouth. Why? Because we don’t know exactly when and how they’re going to grace us with their presence. Every person has a different experience with wisdom teeth and there aren’t any hard or fast rules to when or how they’ll come in. Some people don’t even have wisdom teeth! Knowing what to expect and what to look for can help you avoid pain, problems and expensive procedures.

How to Tell If It’s Wisdom Teeth Coming In (Or Something Else)

Signs it might be wisdom teeth:

  • Really intense pain that radiates toward the ears, eyes, or head may mean an abscessed tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth are prone to infection, but an abscess may also be from tooth decay.
  • Jaw pain or pain in the back of your mouth may be from your wisdom teeth coming in, but could also be a symptom of TMJ.
  • Pressure or throbbing in your gums in the back of your mouth.
  • Swollen gums or visible cuts in your gums.
  • Persistent earaches or headaches may occur when wisdom teeth are trying to make their way down and there’s not enough room in the mouth. Pressure can build up around the surrounding teeth and tissues causing significant pain in the mouth and beyond.

A common misconception is that a change in the alignment of your teeth could be wisdom teeth causing crowding. However, there is no clinical evidence to support this popular theory.

Signs it’s probably not wisdom teeth:

  • Non-lingering sensitivity to sweets, hot drinks, cold drinks, ice cream, and even to cold air may indicate an exposed root which is the most common type of tooth pain.
  • Mild to sharp pain when you bite down, a visible hole in your tooth, or staining is likely a cavity.
  • A persistent toothache or sensitivity that lasts for at least a few minutes after exposure to hot, cold, or sweets may be a sign of nerve damage.

Pain is our body’s way of telling us something’s wrong. It comes in many different forms, rearing its ugly head at the most inopportune times and can radiate from its source making us unsure of what it is that really hurts.

Wisdom tooth pain is no exception. While not everyone will experience discomfort, if you’re between the ages of 16 and 25, you should be aware of the symptoms associated with erupting wisdom teeth.

Here are 9 important things to know about erupting wisdom teeth:

1) Not all wisdom teeth need extraction.

wisdom teeth coming in
The degrees of eruption when wisdom teeth come in.

Wisdom teeth are the third molars in the back of your mouth. Some of them push through with no problem, some become impacted, some are positioned perfectly, and some simply wreak havoc. In other words, not all wisdom teeth are created equal!

In any given family, one sibling may need all four extracted while another may experience absolutely no wisdom tooth pain or problems at all. Don’t make assumptions based on what your friends or brothers and sisters have been through. Instead, consult your dentist for an expert opinion on whether you should have your wisdom teeth removed. If your dentist sees extraction as a possibility, he or she will refer you to an oral surgeon who will give you definitive answers.

2) Not everyone experiences wisdom tooth pain.

It’s true! Just because you have wisdom teeth doesn’t mean you’re going to have pain, problems, or even need an extraction! There are many lucky teenagers and young adults out there who have plenty of room in their mouths, experiencing only minor irritation or no pain at all.

3) Impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to become infected.

While impacted wisdom teeth are quite common and don’t always cause pain, they are more likely to become infected.

An impacted tooth is one that gets stuck in the bone or gum tissue when it’s trying to make its way out. When the tooth is even partially erupted it is suddenly exposed to a new set of bacteria inside the oral cavity. The emerging tooth can create hard-to-clean pockets where these bacteria can build up, eventually triggering infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain, and bad breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to contact your dentist!

4) Wisdom teeth can cause problems with the rest of your teeth.

You may be wondering, “If these teeth are so wise, then don’t they do what they’re supposed to do? Why can’t they all just come in quick and straight and painlessly? And why do some people have room for them and some don’t?” The simple answer is that no two mouths are the same!Some of us develop to our full potential in terms of the size of the oral cavity. Those of us that do not develop our oral structures fully will not have room for these late erupting teeth.

Some of us develop to our full potential in terms of the size of the oral cavity. Those of us that do not develop our oral structures fully will not have room for these late-erupting teeth.

If there’s not enough room in the mouth, they may need to be extracted even if you aren’t experiencing any pain. Also, don’t assume that you just take out just the impacted or infected wisdom teeth. As opposing teeth impact your bite, it might make sense to extract a healthy wisdom tooth as well.

5) Not all wisdom teeth come in at the same time.

Your wisdom teeth may not come in at the same time as your sister’s or your best friend’s did. And all four of yours may not come in at once either! One tooth may be impacted while three others may emerge with no problem. Two may come in at once and the other two might take another year or two. Dental x-rays and regular exams are the best way to stay aware of their progress or lack of.

6) Extraction doesn’t have to be a bad experience.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of impacted, infected wisdom teeth being extracted, resulting in patients writhing in pain, slurping horrible-tasting smoothies (check out this recipe for a tasty alternative!) for days upon days.

Just keep in mind, someone else’s bad experience (which, more times than not, is grossly exaggerated) has absolutely no bearing on how you will recover. And, honestly, most people don’t have post-surgical complications.

The best thing you can do to ease your mind is to do your research. Make yourself aware of the process, the procedures, and the probable timeline for recovery. Talk to your oral surgeon and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Like so many other things in life, when you know what to expect, it’s a lot less stressful! My article on wisdom teeth surgery can help you feel more prepared.

7) Early detection of impacted or infected wisdom teeth prevents problems.

Think for a minute of your home’s roof. You’re on a ladder cleaning the leaves out of your gutters when you notice a couple of shingles have gone askew. Your instinct is to kind of push them back in place and hope for the best. But, ignoring the little things can cause a domino effect and, before you know it, you have a real problem – buckets of water in your living room! Alternatively, you can nip it in the bud and call in a professional roofer to fix the problem while it’s still small.

The same thing goes for your mouth. Impacted wisdom teeth are not always problematic, but are more likely to become infected. And infections should never be ignored!

Also, the earlier you have your wisdom teeth extracted, the easier the surgical procedure will be as the teeth are rounder and less developed.

8) Home remedies can help with infections and wisdom tooth pain.

While many of us are quick to grab the bottle of painkillers, there are many natural ways to help reduce pain and treat infection. Ginger, turmeric, and basil are known for their anti-inflammatory properties while peppermint and garlic are associated with helping to alleviate tooth pain.

9) Not everyone has wisdom teeth!

If you’ve been wondering when your wisdom teeth are going to emerge, just know that you could be waiting a lifetime. Some people do not have any wisdom teeth, some only have two, and still others have three! Wisdom teeth are actually the most common of all teeth to be missing. Likewise, there’s a small population of people who are born with an extra set of wisdom teeth.



While everyone will have a different experience with wisdom teeth, it doesn’t have to be a traumatic encounter. Stay on top of the state of your wisdom teeth with regular x-rays and dental exams and be sure to talk with your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.

And, if you’re wondering… the amount of wisdom teeth you have or don’t have is no indication of how wise you will grow up to be!

Dr. Mark Burhenne

What’s your experience with wisdom teeth? Leave me a comment below! I read every one!

read next: Wisdom Teeth Removal: Know Before You Go

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS


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  1. Well i have my wisdom teeth coming in im 25 yours old have gum disease and my teeth are really bad, have pain and cant get raid of it what to do im in deed of help i cant sleep if i try i only get 2 or 3 hours of sleep and wake up outta a dead sleep because of my pain its on the left downword the very last tooth before my wisdom is hurting what should i do??

  2. Hi,

    I’m 27 years old and my wisdom teeth have just started to bother me but only on one side. My jaw/cheek area is inflamed and I have a hard time chewing or swallowing and have been encountering headaches from this pain. I see my wisdom teeth coming in and I know I should contact a dentist but I don’t have health insurance and I’m worried this could get worse. Do you have natural home remedies that can help with the inflammation/pain? I’ll probably have to go to a free clinic but is that safe for extractions?

  3. Hello doctor I am having issues with my wisdom teeth and I think another tooth coming in the back but left side is through my gums started popping off of the very back of it I then noticed further down from my gun is what feels to be another tooth underneath my gum really hard them and on the other side my wisdom tooth is just got the point of it out and I felt down from there and there is also a lump that similar to when they come in like a tooth but that whole when I suck back there releases fluid that smells funky I really appreciate you would love to hear back from you also a few years back when I was a kid I constantly had job problems like this location bones popping out and having to be pushed back getting off hinged it feels but it only happened while I was a child but for a few years love to hear back from you thank you for being a Help full hero have a wonderful day

  4. Im 20 years old and I’ve had my top right wisdom tooth for about a year and now my bottom right is coming in.
    It seems to be coming in straight, but my whole right side of my jaw is swollen and I have throbbing pain.
    The tooth has been poking out for about 2 months, maybe more, but now it is starting to actually erupt from my gums.
    My top right tooth grew in with some pain, but all in all no problems.
    My bottom one on the other hand, looks as if it’s going to grow in where my cheek connects to my jaw line.

  5. Hi there,

    Just wondering. In the past, perhaps people needed wisdom teeth because by that time in their lives, they’d lost teeth? And because there was more room, they didn’t have as many problems with impacted wisdom teeth, as we do nowadays when most people don’t lose teeth by 16-25.

    No one ever mentions this. Thoughts?

    Mich (retired veterinarian)

  6. I don’t think my teeth are giving me too much of a problem. Im just trying to make sure. I think my wisdom tooth is coming in. It’s only one. It’s in the very back of my mouth. Three out four of the top pieces are out but it don’t hurt that bad. The gums and Inside of my cheek is hurting but nothing major.

  7. My back left wisdom was pushing through at Xmas and was impacting my back tooth- my oral surgeon instead of taking out my wisdom tooth took out my back tooth instead as there was enough room for it to grow the last week I have had sever pain and I’m not sure if something is wrong or if it could because it’s maybe coming through – the pain is right through my lower jaw and into my ear and it’s extremely sore to touch and it does not taste good?

  8. I have a throbbing pain in the back of my jaw and gum line. It’s swollen and it hurts to chew on the ride side (where I usually chew) the pain is spreading through about 6 teeth and to the upper part of my jaw. My mouth is already crowded enough so I have no room for anymore teeth.

  9. That is really interesting that some wisdom teeth come in at other times. I had no idea that this was so common. I am needing to get mine out soon due to some sleeping issues. Hopefully I don’t have new ones coming in later.

  10. Dr. I am 16 and my two wisfom teeth has emerged and the third one emerging in lowe right jaw and painful and i can eat but not as like as normal people i can eat by tolerating the pain. Sometimes i feel the pain very much. So it became 5 days and still how many day would it take to recover to normal.

  11. Pls, hlep me..
    Hi. My name is anna. I am 20 years old. Last 2 days, the teeth behind my mouth, so called wisdon teeth came out from my right side of gum. It hurts so badd. I can’t even open my mouth. can’t even eat anything.So I took paracetamol to release pain. It helped. It wasn’t that hurt like before but the next day,the coner of my right eye started to hurt.And that night, My eyelid swallow and red and hurt so badd..and it became internal sty. It hurt like hell..I cant even open my right eye.
    I want to know is that is there a connection or later disadvantages between growing wisdom teeth and the swallow eyelids called sty?
    Thank you, sir.

  12. Hello, Doctor your article on wisdom teeth is really helpful. I am 24 and I am experiencing this painful arrival of wisdom teeth. My mouth was swollen from the right side, I have not eaten properly like I eat normally. I am just surviving on a bowl of oats in the whole day. Recently the teeth adjacent to the arriving one has started paining as well. Please guide.
    Thank you

  13. Thanks for bringing to my attention that wisdom teeth can sometimes there isn’t space for wisdom teeth, so they need to be removed to prevent them from affecting the rest of your teeth. My son mentioned that he thinks he can feel his wisdom teeth coming in. He recently got his braces off, so I don’t want the wisdom teeth shifting them all out of place again. To prevent that, we’ll make sure to visit a professional to see if he should get them extracted.

  14. I’m 11 and my WISDOM TEETH ARE ALREADY GROWING IN!!!!! HELP!!!! Is something wrong? I’m not even kidding I would send a photo if I could but help. Someone needs to tell me what is going on.

  15. For me wisdom teeth are slow going and since we saw signs of the first one coming in about a year ago, it has come in just fine and with minimal pain. The second (also on the bottom) came in quite alright, but now in the last stretch, after a bout of flu, it has started to chafe the inside of my cheek causing quite a bit of discomfort and swelling. I was wondering if the bout of flu and irritation in my gums might somehow be connected…

  16. Hello Doctor. I’d like to ask if it’s normal for your earlobes to feel pain if your wisdom tooth is growing? I’m feeling so much pain and I tried taking a pain reliever but it doesn’t help at all. I visited the dentist already and my dentist said that they are going to observe first. Can you suggest something that can ease the pain ?

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