Is My Wisdom Tooth Infected or Has It Just Come In?

Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, typically appear during the later stages of adolescence or early adulthood. While they may occasionally develop without causing any discomfort or complications, they often lead to issues as a result of being cramped or misaligned within the mouth.

It is not always immediately obvious whether a wisdom tooth is just coming through or if it has become infected. Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of an infection is important for seeking timely dental care.

Signs and Symptoms of Wisdom Tooth Infection

  • Pain and Swelling: One of the main signs that a wisdom tooth is infected is experiencing moderate to intense pain at the location of the tooth. If the pain continues and becomes more severe, it may indicate an infection rather than a normal eruption of the tooth. 
  • Reddening of Gums: Redness and swelling are common symptoms of infected gums, which may also be sensitive when touched. In contrast, during the regular eruption process, there may be some tenderness, but it is usually not accompanied by noticeable redness or swelling. 
  • Swelling of the Cheek: In more severe cases, the cheek might swell, indicating that the infection may have spread to surrounding tissues.
  • Bad Taste and Smell: A very telling sign of infection is a bad taste or salty discharge from the area of the wisdom tooth, as well as persistent bad breath that doesn’t improve with proper oral hygiene.
  • Difficulty Opening the Mouth or Swallowing: If you find it difficult to open your mouth or swallow, this could suggest that an infection has developed, impacting your oral function.
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PainMild discomfortModerate to strong discomfort
Swelling/Reddening of GumsPossible, mildYes, often severe
Swelling of CheekUncommonCommon
Bad Taste/Smell from the MouthUncommonCommon
Difficulty Opening the MouthUncommonCommon
Difficulty SwallowingUncommonCommon

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly in combination, there’s a good chance that the wisdom tooth is infected. It is vital to seek the advice of a dentist, especially an emergency dentist if the symptoms are severe or worsening. An emergency dentist can provide immediate care and advise on the best course of action, which could include antibiotics to treat infection or surgery to remove the tooth.

Symptoms of Difficulty in Erupting Teeth

With wisdom tooth decay, the first signs are painful reactions when eating sweet and sour foods, cold drinks and inhaling cold air. The pain is temporary. If the stimulus disappears, the pain stops.

Symptoms of wisdom teeth pulpitis:

  • Acute pulpitis. Characterized by sharp pain that does not go away after the stimulus is removed. It can occur without cause and last for more than 15 minutes. Painful sensations are aggravated in the evening and at night.
  • Chronic pulpitis. The pain has a whining character. Provokes pain alternating hot and cold drinks. After the elimination of the irritant, the pain after some time passes.
  • With periodontitis of wisdom teeth in the acute form, localized pain is noted. Pain increases with a strong bite. There may be swelling of the cheek, gum around the tooth.
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Chronic periodontitis proceeds practically without symptoms. There may be pain when chewing or when touching the tooth. Examination by a dentist reveals purulent discharge from the gum.

Symptoms in the growth of wisdom teeth can be pain of a neuralgic nature. They can give into the ear, eyes, throat. At the same time, the muscles of the neck are often inflamed and swollen, lymph nodes are enlarged.

In the inflammatory process during the growth of wisdom teeth, the body temperature may rise. It can exceed the figure of 38 degrees. The duration of fever is a maximum of 4 days. Headaches, chills, lethargy and drowsiness may also bother.

It should be known that when wisdom teeth erupt, the throat may begin to hurt. It is likely that the tonsils may become inflamed when pathogens from the surface of a sore wisdom tooth enter the upper respiratory tract.


It is crucial to keep in mind that while some discomfort may be expected when a wisdom tooth comes in, experiencing intense pain, swelling, a bad taste, and struggling with normal mouth functions are not normal and require immediate attention from a dentist.  

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