Back To Blog

Our Guide To Wisdom Tooth Infection

Dr.Anna Beattie Profile Image

Last Reviewed 06 December 2021

Medically reviewed by Dr.Anna Beattie, Bachelor Dent. Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) 2003, PG Diploma in Conscious Sedation (Newcastle University), Clinical Doctorate in Oral Surgery, Fellow of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Oral Surgeon

Table of Contents

Wisdom Tooth Pain Relief 5 Remedies 3Dental

Wisdom Tooth Infection Treatments - Dr. Anna Beattie

Wisdom Tooth Pain Relief 5 Remedies 3Dental

Wisdom Tooth Infection Treatments - Dr. Anna Beattie

Before we delve into the details of wisdom tooth infection, let's start with defining what your wisdom teeth actually are.

Wisdom teeth (also referred to as the third molars) are the final set of molars to grow in. Dr. Anna Beattie
Most people will get them in their late teens or early 20's when they’re older and wiser than when they had their first permanent teeth, hence the name wisdom teeth.  Dr. Anna Beattie

But just like other teeth, wisdom teeth are prone to various issues. They can decay, become impacted, get a cavity, or stay stuck below the gumline. This often results in wisdom tooth infection, a highly uncomfortable experience that can lead to excruciating pain

Wisdom tooth infection is quite common; around 4 in 1000 persons have their third molars removed. Thus, wisdom tooth removal is one of the ten most common dental procedures in Ireland. 

What Is Wisdom Tooth Infection?

Wisdom tooth infection is medically known as pericoronitis, the inflammation or swelling of gum tissue. It often occurs on the lower set of wisdom teeth and can cause extreme pain.

What Causes Wisdom Tooth Infection?

Wisdom Tooth Pain Relief 5 Remedies 3Dental

Wisdom Tooth Infection Causes - Dr. Anna Beattie

Wisdom Tooth Pain Relief 5 Remedies 3Dental

Wisdom Tooth Infection Causes - Dr. Anna Beattie

Pericoronitis develops when food and bacteria get trapped around the wisdom tooth. This usually occurs when the tooth is impacted, i.e., it doesn’t grow through the gums correctly.

It’s either growing at an angle, completely tilted sideways, or has only partially broken through the gum. 

In the latter case, the shape and angle of the partially erupted tooth provide more avenues for bacteria accumulation. There is also the operculum- soft tissue growth over a partially erupted third molar. Food and plaque can collect under this tissue, presenting another avenue for bacteria to accumulate around the tooth. 

Wisdom teeth are also generally harder to clean due to their positioning at the back of the mouth. So, depending on how much attention you pay to your oral hygiene, you may be leaving avenues for bacteria to collect around the teeth. If the bacteria remain there for too long, it irritates the gum, causing pericoronitis.

Symptoms Of Wisdom Tooth Infection

The earliest symptom of a wisdom tooth infection is swelling of the gums around the top crown of the affected tooth.

How Do I Know That My Wisdom Tooth Is Infected?

Gingivectomy and surgery before 3Dental
Gingivectomy and surgery after 3Dental

Generally, the symptoms of wisdom tooth infection include:

  1. Tender, swollen gums accompanied by pain and sensitivity.
  2. A white fluid oozing around the tooth.
  3. Bad breath or a persistent bad taste in your mouth. These odours come from the bacteria that have accumulated in and or around the wisdom tooth.
  4. The infection may spread to the lymph glands under your jaw, throat, and face in severe cases. This results in jaw pain, stiffness, and swelling and a sore throat.
  5. It may also lead to headaches, chills, nausea, and fever if left untreated.


If you have had the above symptoms, the sensible next step is to visit a dentist

Are You In Need Of A Dental Checkup?

Get in touch today

Common Effects Of Wisdom Tooth Infection

Visit a dentist - dental surgery - 3Dental

Depending on the degree of infection, pericoronitis may result in extreme pain. For instance, your top tooth can pressure the swelling when biting down, causing pain.

Also, the swelling happens close to the muscles controlling your jaw’s movement, which can make it painful to open your mouth. 

Note that you may still experience pain even if your wisdom teeth aren’t infected. For instance, an erupting third molar may be painful when it’s not impacted. On the other hand, not all impacted teeth get infected, although most result in swollen and painful gums. 

This is especially the case if you have a tight jaw structure with little room for the wisdom tooth to grow. The tooth is impacted and pressed against a neighbouring molar as it erupts, resulting in pain, tenderness, and swelling. This pressure may not necessarily lead to an infection, but it can cause fractures and damage the roots of the affected teeth. 

Similarly, you may develop a cyst around your wisdom tooth. This is a fluid-filled sack of tissue that feels like a hard bump. It usually forms over an impacted wisdom tooth and feels painful when pressed on. It can also lead to pericoronitis and other complications if left unchecked. Dr. Peter Doherty

Pericoronitis Risk Factors

You’re more likely to get a wisdom tooth infection if you:

  • Are aged between 17 and 25
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Have a tight jaw structure

Can I Treat My Wisdom Tooth Infection At Home?

wisdom tooth infection - 3dental

You can’t exactly treat a wisdom tooth infection at home. However, the following home remedies should help with the pain and discomfort until you can finally secure the services of a dentist.

  1. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water regularly. The salt should temporarily slow down the bacteria and reduce the pain.
  2. You can also cold compress the affected tooth by placing an ice pack on the outside of your cheek. The extreme cold reduces the swelling and inflammation around the affected tooth.
  3. Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and drinking water to make a mouthwash. Hydrogen peroxide is a potent antibacterial that should clean out the infected area.
  4. If the discomfort persists, you can use over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen for pain relief. Ibuprofen also helps reduce swelling of the gum around the wisdom tooth.
Wisdom teeth can be troublesome for many people with problems starting in the late teens and early twenties. Maintaining good oral hygiene reduces the chances of wisdom tooth infection. Dr. Peter Doherty

Visit A Dentist

Visit a dentist - dental surgery - Sarah Byrne 3Dental

You have to see a dentist to make sure that your infected wisdom tooth is taken care of. The dentist will clean and examine your wisdom teeth and take an x-ray of the affected area. This will help them determine if the tooth has partially erupted. They will then be able to decide on the best treatment for your particular situation.

If you are diagnosed with pericoronitis, treatment involves:

  • Medications to clear up the infection around the tooth. These include taking antibiotics and painkillers for a week or two.
  • If an impacted tooth or the infection results in a cavity, the dentist will perform dental surgery to repair your wisdom tooth.
  • In some cases, the tooth has to be removed.

Are You In Need Of A Dental Checkup?

Get in touch today

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are removed if the partial eruption and infection damage the affected tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth can also be removed to prevent future infections.

How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

A damaged wisdom tooth is extracted during dental surgery, either partially or completely. Partial removal involves coronectomy, where only the top part of a wisdom tooth is removed. 

The dentist may also decide to extract both your upper and lower sets of wisdom teeth during complete removal. This prevents your upper molars from biting your lower gum and causing another infection. 

The dentist may also remove the operculum to reduce the pain and inflammation and help the partially erupted tooth grow.

Qualified Dentist Near Me

If you suspect that you may be suffering from a wisdom tooth infection, visit our Dublin, Limerick or Galway clinics today.

We offer emergency consultations at all of our clinics.

So you don’t have to endure excruciating pain, get in touch with us today and get fast pain relief!

DayOpening Hours
Monday-Friday8am - 8pm
Saturday9am - 5pm

Are You In Need Of A Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

Get in touch today

Recent Reviews

Kieran Spillane

“Can’t recommend 3Dental Limerick enough. I’ve got composite bonding here years ago and I’ve had trouble with one tooth in particular that has chipped a couple of times (my own fault) and Fearghal has...”

Niamh Cryan

“I had such an amazing experience at 3Dental Limerick! I had braces when I was younger and in the ~9 years since they came off my teeth had started to slightly move back into a more crooked alignment....”

Ashley Hynes

“I couldn’t recommend 3Dental Galway enough. The staff are so professional and accommodating. Dr. Paul O’Connell was fantastic. I had fixed braces and bonding to my teeth and I couldn’t be happier...”

Evan McMahon

“Would highly recommend Aishling the dental hygienist at 3Dental Galway. Very professional, positive, and down-to-earth person. She makes time to speak you, whilst also been very informative and...”

Marie Nevin

“I can smile again, thanks to Dr. Andrea and her team. I would totally recommend 3Dental Galway. I was treated with the utmost care and professionalism from start to finish.”

Clare McSharry

“I travelled from Sligo to Galway to get 2 teeth implants done by Dr. Andrea Uribarri. The service was excellent during the implant process. I have been back for 1 checkup, and I'm really happy with...”

Nicole Ward

“Highly recommend 3Dental. Just had my braces removed after 1 year and a half and so happy with the results. My orthodontist Tatiana was amazing to deal with, so calming and friendly at every visit....”

EJ Ryan

“Very happy with the excellent professional service from Peter Doherty.”

Brian Cooper

“Didn't think I would be given a review about a dentist, but I have to highly recommend 3Dental about their professional team, especially Dr Peter Doherty, who looked after me with my dental implants,...”

Ciaran Kavanagh

“Where do I start, I was looking for some dental work to be done,I knew it was not going to be any straightforward procedure. I searched the Internet and found 3Dental. I am so glad that I did, I am...”


“Never bothered by having to go to the dentist again. I had to get whitening, bonding and a crown done over the space of a year and it was a great experience. The team are A1 and Fergal is a great...”

Keith O'Brien

“I would highly recommend 3Dental. This time last year I was in constant pain with infections and my teeth were in a bad way. I came across 3Dental while searching for dental implants. I had...”

Eileen Dempsey

“I have just had my Implant, from Doctor Peter Doherty, and have to say i was treated so well from start to finish, and the end result is amazing. I am so very happy with my new smile, i will attend...”

Viv van der Holst

“Firstly apologies for the delay in writing this review. I have been too busy smiling again :) And chewing food normally. I cannot express enough the gratitude I feel towards Dr Andoni Jones and his...”

Sean Dentur

“I got 6 implants over past 2 years in 3Dental. Very efficient/professional and kind staff. Would highly recommend them.”

Whitney Culleton

“I had an consultation for composite bonding with a female dentist back in December and I left not feeling great about the app so rather than leaving a bad review I reached out to Dr Niall for a...”

Tara Henshaw

“I had composite bonding done with Dr Carmen and gingivectomy with Dr Andoni Jones , they were both brilliant. Thanks so much to them both they were so friendly and so good at their job I'm delighted...”

Caitlin Morrison

“I've been going to 3Dental the last year with Dr Carmen. She's amazing so nice and her work is great Got my composite bonding with her defo recommend always give advice and always there if needs be...”

Jane Russell

“Such a brilliant clinic with fantastic service. Had to have a couple of things done with fillings and bonding so I saw a number of dentists, all of whom were total pros and expert at what they do. A...”

Caroline O'Brien

“I have had lots of treatment and also my 2 daughters here in 3Dental which included root canal wisdom tooth extraction crowns and now implants and All on the same premises. All staff we have met have...”

Ready for the Next Step? Book Your Free Consultation

Enquire Now View Pricing Options