When you think of wisdom teeth, the first thing you probably think of is having them removed. That’s natural – many people have their wisdom teeth taken out long before the teeth break through their gums because these teeth, known as third molars, are impacted or blocked from erupting. Those who don’t have them removed before they erupt have them removed later because of the risk of tooth decay and other oral health concerns. But, can having your wisdom teeth removed cause negative consequences for those living with temporomandibular joint disorder?

TMD and Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Removing wisdom teeth has the risk of complications for any individual, but for those with TMD, the situation can become even more complicated. Why?

The increased risk of complications occurs because the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are already inflamed, stressed or irritated. Surgery can increase these effects, making your recovery difficult.

Even if you don’t currently have TMD, having your wisdom teeth removed could trigger the condition. Some research has shown that removing wisdom teeth is a risk factor for TMD, but in most cases, patients can be evaluated after wisdom teeth removal to see if TMD develops.

How Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Affect the TMJs?

Wisdom teeth extraction requires the mouth to be wide open to access the wisdom teeth, which can put stress on the TMJs. In many cases, the surgery can take an hour or more to complete, which is a long time to keep the mouth open.

The general cause of stress on the TMJs is the surgical procedure itself, which requires a lot of cutting, pushing and pulling. This can put strain on the joints.

As a result of wisdom teeth removal, you may experience pain in the TMJ joints, swelling and stiffness. Other side effects include headaches; pain in the neck, back and shoulders; pain or difficulty when eating or talking; and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

But, What If You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

If that is the case, you should have those wisdom teeth removed, even if you have TMD. Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about the risks and benefits of wisdom teeth removal and how side effects can be mitigated.

If you want to learn more about how to manage temporomandibular joint disorder and how wisdom teeth removal and other oral surgeries can affect your condition, call Dr. Sean Endsley at 254-799-9540 to schedule a consultation to learn about your options.