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2nd Molar, Wisdom Tooth, or Something Else?

FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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I'm hoping one of the dentists can talk me off the ledge because right now I'm thinking the worst.

I'm having discomfort and what feels like minor swelling on the bottom gum next to (but further back - where my wisdom tooth used to be) tooth #31. I'm also having some soreness in my cheek.

About 8 years ago, I had my wisdom tooth removed with local only. It was fully boney impacted. The local didn't work. I felt everything. It was horribly painful and the oral surgeon, after about 90 minutes couldn't get all the roots out and decided to leave them there saying they should be fine. A couple of years after that I had a root canal on #31 where the endo was unable to fully clean out on of the roots due to suspected calcification.

I'm really worried that the discomfort I am having now I'd due to one of these things coming back to haunt me. Any idea which is more likely after such a long period of time. I'm actually most worried that is the wisdom tooth roots because of my inability to get numb on either side of my bottom jaw for the extractions (for root canals, endos have been able to numb me) so the thought of having to have the retained roots extracted is terrifying. Any chance it could be unrelated to either of these things?

Anything you can tell me to help put my mind at ease would be greatly appreciated.
 
D

drm

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Could be a couple different things. From most to least likely. Your dentist would probably need an x-ray of the area to know for sure.

#1: The gum tissue may have gotten irritated back behind the second molar. This can cause some swelling and discomfort. This happens most often with the gum tissue behind lower second and third molars. This usually goes away on its own with a week or two. Sometimes your dentist will use an antibiotic rinse to irrigate the gum tissue and help clean it a little better (very comfortable and no anesthetic needed).

#2: Could be something going on with the tooth that had the root canal.

#3: Could be the retained roots. This is pretty rare, especially if the retained roots were small. A panoramic x-ray could tell for sure if they have shifted or are having an other problems.
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Thank you! I had figured that the order of likelihood was the opposite of that. Given that, I'm going to try to wait it out. I moved about a year ago and continue to go to the dentist where I used to live (and it's 3 hours away). If it doesn't get better in a couple of weeks (or gets worse), I will call him. I really appreciate knowing that it's least likely to be the wisdom tooth!
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Dr M - after reading your response I searched on the web for potential home remedies. It seems that warm salt water may help and I have stated to do this.

One of the things that I am wondering about after my reading is that everything I read says that this issue occurs almost exclusively as a result of a partially erupted wisdom tooth (which I don't have). What else could cause this? I floss and brush religiously and like to think that my oral hygiene is very good. If it's some sort of food particle that got stuck there to cause this, I will be mortified if I have to go to the dentist and that's what he finds.

The other thing I'm worried about is that a lot of (seemingly reputable) sources on the internet say that extraction may be the only permanent solution for this problem (I'm probably getting ahead of myself). Can you tell me if this is just me reading bad info or if there is some truth to this? I really don't want to lose this tooth!

Sorry for all the crazy questions - I know I should stay away from Google :(
 
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drm

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It does happen most commonly with partially erupted wisdom teeth but it can also happen behind fully erupted ones and second molars, depending on where your tooth / gum tissue is. I have that exact problem around my lower second molars (I had my wisdom teeth out when I was young). Once every couple of years the gum tissue will swell and get painful despite excellent oral hygiene. As long as it doesn't happen very often, I wouldn't be too concerned about it and definitely wouldn't want to remove a second molar just for that. When they talk about extraction being the only permanent option, that is really only with wisdom teeth in mind.
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Thank you again! The pain got worse yesterday so I gave in and made an appointment to have it looked at on Monday. Fingers crossed that it's just inflammation and is easily treatable.
 
D

drm

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I hope so too!
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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In case anyone is following... went to the dentist this morning. The hygienist did the cleaning and was super patient and kind about trying not to hurt me more than I'm already hurting. I really didn't like her the first couple of times I went to her, but she's really grown on me. The dentist took a look at the X-ray and poked around some. The wisdom tooth roots are really far away from the 2nd molar and the dentist said I had more pain the closer he got to the 2nd molar. So... he's sending me to the endodontist. I really, really don't like the endodontist he refers to, but he told me that he's really the best at diagnosing. So... I will go in a couple of hours and see what he says. I was nearly in tears about having to go see the endo, but I know my dentist is sending me to the person he really thinks is best and he can see me today. I'll update again later. Wish me luck!
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Endo took another X-ray that seemed to have better resolution than the one my regular dentist used. The tip of the root that had not been fully filled has a small infection. Endo prescribed anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. He said that the root canal will need to be redone, but that the anti-inflammatory and abx will buy me some time (maybe 6 months to a year) until I can make it back to have the retreatment done. As an aside, the endo was much nicer and way less weird than the last time I saw him.

Thanks to anyone reading and to Dr. M for helping me to have a little less 'unknown' to deal with going into this.
 
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