The wisdom teeth, which are the third molars and the last set of teeth to grow, are a common yet problematic group of teeth. More often than not, there is insufficient space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to grow. When this happens, the wisdom teeth becomes impacted.
As such, removing the wisdom teeth is a common surgical procedure that many people go through as a preventative measure. However, for some people, the recovery process is not without its fair share of discomfort and pain.
If you are currently experiencing a headache just after having your wisdom teeth removed, do not worry as they are a particularly common symptom experienced by patients. The degree of headache can range from mild to severe and can last for days or even weeks after the procedure.
In this article, we will explore the possible cause of headache after wisdom teeth removal, as well as possible treatments and preventive measures. Whether you’re facing this issue yourself or seeking information for a loved one, you’ll find helpful insights and tips for managing postoperative headaches.
Reasons Behind Headache After Wisdom Teeth Removal
There are several reasons why you may be experiencing a headache, and the combination of these factors can affect the severity of the symptom.
Firstly, it may be due to the narcotics that was given to you post-surgery as a pain reliever. Sometimes, doctors would prescribe opioids or narcotic pain relievers to treat post-surgery pain. However, these prescription drugs may lead to addiction and overdose among patients who consume it for an extended period to treat chronic pain. Even in the short term, patients may suffer from negative side effects such as confusion, nausea, sleepiness, sweating, headache, and dry mouth.
Secondly, it may be due to a dry socket. A dry socket is a medical complication that happens when the blood clot fails to clot properly or is dislodged from the cavity where the tooth was removed. When this occurs, the underlying bones and nerves are exposed and easily irritated. This can cause severe pain, bad breath, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and headache.
Thirdly, the headache one experiences immediately after your wisdom teeth surgery may be due to the anesthesia. While it is uncommon for people who had local anaesthesia to experience headache, fatigue or pain, it may still happen to a small group of patients.
Fourthly, it may be signs of an infection. During an infection, inflammation occurs in the affected gum area, triggering the release of pain-causing substances which leads to headache. Patients will also experience other symptoms such as nausea, fever, sensitivity to light and sound, and extreme pain around the infected area. If not treated in time, the infection may progress to other parts of the gum and trigger life-threatening conditions to the patients.
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Last but not least, the headache may be due to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which is caused by the removal of the wisdom teeth. The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects the lower jaw to your skull. In general, any situations or conditions that prevents the jaw joint from functioning well can be considered as a TMJ disorder. The disorder can be caused by different actions and behavior including trauma, a blow to the joint area, an improper bite, and general wear and tear. In fact, a 2014 study revealed that out of the 801 participants, 27% of them reported TMJ disorders after their wisdom teeth removal. When the disorder occurs, individuals will suffer from a range of symptoms including pain in the jaw, difficulty chewing, limitations in the opening and closing of the mouth, and headache.
Relieving the Headache
There are several ways to relieve the throbbing headache you are experience after wisdom teeth removal:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Instead of using opioids to manage pain, opt for over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (advil) or acetaminophen (tylenol) to relieve the pain. These pain relievers are not addictive and carry less risks of negative side effects than opioids.
- Ice or heat compress: Applying a cold compress to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, twice a day. This can help to reduce inflammation which will alleviate the headache. You can also try a warm compress for a similar effect.
- Hydration: Drink plenty of water to help keep headaches at bay. In fact, dehydration is a leading cause of chronic headache.
- Rest: Get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activity for the first few days after your surgery. This will improve the quality of the recovery process and eliminate any headache you may have.
- Massage: Gently massage your temples and neck to relieve tension and discomfort.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can contribute to headaches and should be avoided.
If your headache persists or becomes more intense, it important to contact your dentist or oral surgeon for a further evaluation and to come up with the possible treatment plans.. In rare cases, headaches can be a sign of a more serious issue, so it is important to seek medical attention if you experience any unusual symptoms.