Wisdom teeth emerge later as a person ages, which is why they’re associated with intelligence! Many people celebrate when their wisdom teeth come out in perfect alignment, but this is rare. For many people, wisdom teeth emerge at angles that impact their existing teeth, which can result in crowding of teeth, pain, jaw issues, and other problems. One of the more surprising things that people with wisdom teeth impaction learn is the connection between wisdom teeth and temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD.

Severe tension from impacted wisdom teeth can lead to TMJ issues. However, this is a rather uncommon cause as TMD is significantly more likely to be caused by strained muscles, malocclusions, or jaw injuries. Let’s take a look at the possibility of developing TMD from wisdom teeth, and what can be done about it.

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?

The lower jaw bone is joined to the temporal bones on either side of the head by the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), also called the jaw joint, which allows you to open and close your mouth. Disorders of the TMJ can cause jaw discomfort and dysfunction at various levels of intensity. According to studies, TMJ disorders are more common in women than men and impact over 10 million people in the United States.

TMJ issues have various causes, including jaw trauma, some types of arthritis, and muscle tension from subconscious stress, to name a few. Although impacted wisdom teeth and TMJ problems have some similar symptoms, TMJ disorders are hardly ever brought on by impacted wisdom teeth. However, to avoid potential issues, including TMD from wisdom teeth, doctors usually advise having impacted wisdom teeth removed.

Why Is It Necessary to Have Your Impacted Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Your wisdom teeth—or the third molars at the rear of your mouth—may not require extraction if they are:

  • Healthy
  • Fully grown
  • Perfectly positioned and using their opposing teeth to bite
  • Easily cleanable as part of everyday hygiene

However, wisdom teeth usually lack enough space to emerge normally. Wisdom teeth that are about to erupt can develop in the jaw at different angles, occasionally even horizontally, resulting in some of the following problems:

Cysts and Tumors

Wisdom teeth get impacted (stuck) in your jaw if they are unable to erupt properly. This can occasionally lead to infection or even a cyst that harms nearby tooth roots, soft tissues, or the bone’s support system.

Dental Injury

Wisdom teeth that partially emerge form a pathway into the inner structures of the jaw and might attract germs that cause gum disease and oral infections since this region is difficult to notice and clean.

Damage to Neighboring Teeth

Wisdom teeth may crowd or harm neighboring teeth if they don’t have enough room to erupt correctly.

It is possible that wisdom teeth can cause TMD if they don’t fully erupt, as they can push back against the jaw, leading to pain and discomfort. Many dentists agree that it is preferable to remove wisdom teeth when they are still developing, as recovery after TMD treatment is usually quicker. This is the reason why some young adults choose to remove their wisdom teeth before they start to cause issues related to TMJ.

It’s not always easy to decide whether to get wisdom teeth removed, so it’s important to discuss their position, health, and the best course of action for your issue with your dentist or an oral surgeon.

How Long Does TMD Last After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The duration of TMD symptoms after wisdom teeth removal can vary depending on a number of factors such as the extent of the surgery, the individual’s healing process, and if they follow the post-operative instructions provided by their oral surgeon. On average, the recovery time can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Some people may experience mild discomfort or swelling for a few days, while others may have more severe pain and swelling that can last longer. In some cases, TMD symptoms may persist even after recovery, which may require additional treatment. It’s best to consult with a qualified orofacial pain clinic to discuss your individual recovery timeline and any concerns you may have regarding TMD treatment.

What Aids TMJ During Sleep?

The biggest harm to your jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issue can frequently occur while you are asleep, especially if you have TMD from wisdom teeth. In order to stop the problem from becoming worse while you’re sleeping, it’s crucial to safeguard your teeth, jaw muscles, and joints. So how to sleep with TMD, and how to relieve TMJ pain at night?

The most crucial factor to take into account while protecting your TMJ from wisdom teeth while you sleep is your sleeping posture. Avoid sleeping on your stomach since it might put stress on the jaw and induce jaw dislocation. If you normally sleep on your stomach, you’ll need to teach yourself to do otherwise. One method is to sew a tennis ball into the front pocket of a shirt, wear that shirt to bed until you’ve broken the habit, and then remove the garment after you’re done.

The ideal sleeping position for your TMJ is on your back. Many people are able to find a comfortable position by putting a small cushion beneath their knees and using a towel folded up to support their necks.

You can also wear an oral appliance prescribed by your dentist while you sleep, such as a night guard or tooth splint. It’s crucial to wear it at all times, even if you’re just taking a quick nap, since your jaw may bite down harder when you’re sleeping than when you’re awake.

Both the body and the mind need to be at ease to treat TMJ when you sleep. Consider stretching your entire body gently before going to sleep. You can also try some gentle yoga, an Epsom salt, and lavender oil bath, and guided meditations at night. If you are looking for TMD treatment in Reno you can book an appointment with us.


Many people decide to have their impacted wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon in advance in order to prevent issues like TMD, infection, etc. Wisdom tooth extraction technically entails surgery. However, after having their wisdom teeth removed, patients often may return to their regular activities within a few days. If you’re experiencing jaw pain, TMD, or issues related to your wisdom teeth, call the professionals at Northern Nevada Center for Orofacial Pain for a consultation and let us help!