Updated on February 27, 2024
5 min read

Emergency Wisdom Tooth Removal

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When is Wisdom Tooth Removal an Emergency?

Standard wisdom tooth removal is typically not considered a dental emergency. However, if your impacted wisdom teeth are causing significant pain or discomfort, it may be necessary to seek treatment.

Wisdom teeth are located in the far back of your mouth. They’re the last teeth to erupt, usually in your late teens or early 20s. Sometimes they’re referred to as back or third molars.

Impacted wisdom teeth are horizontally aligned or angled. This results in them being misaligned. An impacted wisdom tooth can push on your other teeth or their roots, leading to discomfort or even tooth movement.

In these cases, you may need a dentist or oral surgeon to perform an emergency wisdom tooth removal.

Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause several painful symptoms, including:

Annual X-rays during your teenage years are essential to monitor wisdom teeth eruption. Partially erupted wisdom teeth can lead to pericoronitis, a painful condition where gum tissue covers the tooth.

This condition may trap food and plaque debris in your teeth. It may require antibiotics and extraction for healing.

Some impacted wisdom teeth may partially erupt through your gums. Others may be very horizontally aligned and will never break through your gum tissue.

Do I Need To Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. If your jawbone has enough room for them, and they are coming in straight, you may not need to have them extracted.

However, in many cases, wisdom tooth eruption can be painful and cause damage to your adult teeth.

If so, you will need oral surgery to remove your wisdom teeth. Your dentist should be able to tell you whether or not you will experience issues with your wisdom teeth based on a panoramic or 3D X-ray. 

Why You Shouldn’t Put Off an Emergency Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you don’t have your impacted wisdom teeth removed, it can lead to long-term damage, including:


Wisdom teeth can push against your teeth, causing them to shift. They may become crowded or crooked. This can ruin orthodontic treatment such as braces or clear aligners or cause you to need further treatment.

Tooth damage 

If a wisdom tooth pushes against another tooth, it could cause a cracked tooth. This risk increases if you have a root canal or a large filling on the tooth that is being pushed.

Tooth decay 

Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean, especially if they have partially erupted. They create tight spaces that are hard to get to with your floss or toothbrush. This may lead to tooth decay.


Because they are difficult to clean, infections commonly result from impacted wisdom teeth. Bacteria and food particles may get left behind and cause infections in your teeth or gums (dental abscess).

Gum disease 

Gingivitis or periodontal disease may also result from impacted wisdom teeth.


Untreated impacted wisdom teeth can develop cysts around the tooth’s crown, leading to dental problems in the adjacent teeth and bone.

What to Expect at an Emergency Tooth Extraction

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth, you may require emergency dental care.

The oral surgeon won’t be able to perform a simple extraction on impacted wisdom teeth. They will need to perform a surgical extraction. 

Methods and procedures will vary slightly depending on the practitioner.

Generally, here’s what you should expect for an emergency wisdom tooth extraction:

  • The doctor will apply a local anesthetic to the area around your tooth. The entire area surrounding the tooth will be completely numb in a few minutes.
  • If you have anxiety or dentophobia (fear of the dentist), they may use sedation or “put you under.” This could be in the form of an IV, inhalant, or pill.
  • The dentist will then widen the tooth socket using a dental elevator by applying pressure to the tooth from multiple angles.
  • They will then grasp the tooth with forceps and rock it back and forth. They may also rotate the tooth to separate it from the periodontal ligaments.
  • The doctor may apply one or two stitches (sutures) to close up the wound.
  • Once you are finished with the procedure, you may be placed in the recovery room, prescribed pain medication, and get informed on proper aftercare, depending on your condition.

Wisdom Tooth Removal Aftercare

Here’s what you can expect after your wisdom tooth removal:

Recovery from Anesthesia

After the procedure, you will begin to slowly regain feeling from the anesthetic. This is the most painful part of the experience. But it can be managed easily with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. You may also receive antibiotics to prevent infection.

Healing Time

It’s normal to feel pain, swelling, and bleeding from your wounds in the following days. Pain typically ranges from mild to moderate and is rarely severe.

The blood clots at the extraction site may get agitated or break. These symptoms typically last 3 to 4 days, sometimes up to a week.

If they last longer than a week, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

Aftercare Instructions

Warm salt water rinses and ice packs on your jaw are simple and effective ways to help manage pain during the days following wisdom tooth extractions.

While recovering, refrain from spitting, drinking from a straw, and smoking. Any activity that requires you to suck could cause a dry socket. Avoid very hot or cold foods and liquids as well.

You should also stick to eating soft foods such as:

  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pudding
  • Eggs


Not all wisdom tooth extractions count as an emergency. A wisdom tooth removal emergency is when your teeth cause significant pain or discomfort. When this is the case, visit your dentist right away. They can perform the extraction immediately to provide relief and prevent further complications.

Last updated on February 27, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 27, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Down, J., and Mitchel, V. “Wisdom Tooth Extraction under General Anaesthesia.” Hospital Medicine, 2000. 
  2. Sakkas et al. “Orbital Abscess after Extraction of a Maxillary Wisdom Tooth.” British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 2007. 
  3. Singh et al. “Wisdom Tooth—Complications in Extraction.” The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 2014. 
  4. Song et al. The Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Prophylactic Removal of Wisdom Teeth.” Health Technology Assessment, 2000.  
  5. Suleiman, A.M. “Influence of surgical gauze on the incidence of dry socket after wisdom tooth extraction.” 2006. 
  6. Strietzel F.P., Reichart, P.A. “Wound healing after surgical wisdom tooth extraction. Evidence-based analysis.” Mund-, Kiefer- und Gesichtschirurgie, 2002. 
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