How Do You Know Your Wisdom Teeth Are Coming In?

Jan 30, 2022 | General Dentistry, Oral Surgery

How Do You Know Your Wisdom Teeth Are Coming In

As a teen or young adult, you may think you have all your teeth already. However, that may not be the case. Wisdom teeth typically come through between the ages of 17 and 25 and, in some cases, are unable to break the surface of the gums due to a lack of space, leading to impacted teeth and the need for dental treatment. At New Leaf Rohnert Park, we understand the mystery many people experience when a wisdom tooth breaks through and we are here to answer all your questions and concerns, as well as provide dental care for wisdom teeth when necessary. But what are the signs your wisdom teeth are coming in and when do you need to seek dental care?

Key Takeaways

  • Wisdom teeth can cause gum irritation, headaches, jaw pain, and other issues between ages 17-25.

  • Regular dental exams and x-rays are important for monitoring wisdom teeth eruption.
    Impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and cysts.

  • Wisdom teeth may need to be removed if they cause pain, alignment issues, or damage to surrounding teeth.

  • Contact your dentist for evaluation and treatment options if you suspect your wisdom teeth are coming in.


What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt between the ages of 17-25 for most people. They are found on both the top and bottom and on both sides. Unfortunately, there is not always enough space for these teeth to come through, resulting in them erupting at a crooked angle, only partially able to erupt, or completely trapped below the gumline. When this occurs, they are considered impacted and, over time, can contribute to serious dental concerns, such as increased tooth decay, gum disease, and cysts along the gumline.

Signs your wisdom teeth are coming in

Now that you know what wisdom teeth are and the risk of eruption complications, how do you know if your wisdom teeth are coming in? Regular dental exams and x-rays are the best way to see where your wisdom teeth are and when they may be near eruption. However, there are some common symptoms that can signal your wisdom teeth are coming. Let’s look at what those are.

Gum irritation

When your wisdom teeth begin moving towards the surface, you may notice some swelling, sensitivity, bleeding, or tenderness in your gums behind your second molars. While this can be a sign of your molars coming through, it can also be a sign of gum disease or tooth decay in the back molars, so it is important to check with your dentist.


Headache that begins near the back of your jaw and radiates towards your sinuses, eyes, and ears is common when the wisdom teeth start moving. This is often due to a lack of space for the new teeth to erupt and can range from mild to severe. Unfortunately, this can also be a sign of an abscess, so it is again important to check with your dentist.


When your wisdom teeth have no room to erupt, they can also cause pressure that radiates to your ears, resulting in earaches. You may go to the doctor thinking you have an ear infection only to be told there is nothing wrong. This could be a good indicator that you have an impacted wisdom tooth.

Jaw pain

Pain in the back of your jaw is another common sign when your wisdom teeth begin coming in. This pain can occur when you move your jaw or be more localized to the back of your jaw where the wisdom teeth are located. Again, this pain can be a dull ache to more of stabbing pain. Jaw pain can also be associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, so it is a good idea to have it checked if the pain persists.

Bad breath

You may wonder what bad breath has to do with new teeth, but the fact is your upper wisdom teeth can contribute to a change in breath odor. As your upper wisdom teeth move in, they can cause sinus irritation, blockage, and infection, as well as cause drainage into the throat that can affect the smell of your breath. When this occurs, you may also experience changes in breathing when sleeping.

Accidentally biting your cheeks or tongue

If you are noticing random sores or ulcers on your inner cheeks, your wisdom teeth may already be erupting. It is very common for these erupting teeth to cause you to bite your inner cheeks without knowing you are doing so.

Visible lump or white spot

Are you feeling or seeing a lump or white spot behind your second molars? This could be the tip of your wisdom tooth trying to erupt. If this remains for an extended period, chances are your wisdom tooth is impacted and unable to find the space to break through.


Do you need wisdom teeth removal?

For some, wisdom teeth can come in without any pain or complications. In this case, there is often no need to remove the wisdom teeth. However, for many more, wisdom teeth come in with little available space and their arrival can affect your tooth alignment and, in some cases, damage the surrounding molars. When wisdom teeth only partially erupt, they increase the risk of gum disease and infection as bacteria can become trapped underneath the gumline. When completely impacted, wisdom teeth can pressure surrounding teeth damaging the tooth roots. If left untreated, it can also lead to additional tooth loss. If you suspect your wisdom teeth are coming in, it is always advised to check with your dentist on the recommended treatment options.


Frequently asked questions

At New Leaf Rohnert Park, we are often asked questions about wisdom teeth. Here we offer some answers to frequently asked questions.

What does it feel like when wisdom teeth come in?

Every person is different when it comes to wisdom teeth. While some may experience no symptoms at all and one day realize they have extra teeth, others experience severe pain and discomfort as these third molars try to find room and compete with the other teeth. Regular trips to your dentist can give you a good idea of where your wisdom teeth are and what the likelihood is you will experience symptoms.

How long does it take for wisdom teeth to come in?

Unfortunately, this question is difficult to answer and varies for everyone. For some, wisdom teeth erupt quickly and without any issues. For others, it can take years for a wisdom tooth to fully emerge through the gums if they are even able to fully erupt.

Do wisdom teeth hurt?

Unfortunately, for many, wisdom teeth eruption can be painful. The pain can vary from a dull ache to stabbing pains in the area of tooth eruption. You may also experience gum sensitivity, radiating pain in your jaw or surrounding teeth, and headaches.

Paying attention to your wisdom teeth is the wise thing to do

If you are a young adult and think you may have your wisdom teeth coming in, the team at New Leaf Rohnert Park is here to help. Dental x-rays can show our team where your wisdom teeth are and if there is the potential for dental complications. We will work with you to develop any necessary treatment plans and help reduce your discomfort if needed. To learn more about your wisdom teeth, contact us online or call the office today to schedule an appointment.

Eddie Kuo, DDS

Eddie Kuo, DDS

Owner @ New Leaf Rohnert Park

Professional Degrees

University of California at Davis – BS in Biological Sciences with emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, Behaviors

University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Doctorate of Dental Surgery

State University of New York at Buffalo – General Practice Residency at Erie County Medical Center

Front Office Staff On Phone Taking Appointment

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