Pericoronitis is a very painful condition that can cause swelling, pain, and inflammation in the gums around the wisdom teeth. If left untreated, pericoronitis can lead to further complications such as gum abscesses or even cellulitis. Your Bay Area OSM surgeon can diagnose and treat pericoronitis by removing the overlying gum tissue and potentially removing the wisdom teeth if necessary.
What is Pericoronitis?
Pericoronitis, also known as operculitis, is when the soft tissues surrounding partially erupted wisdom teeth (third and final set of teeth) become inflamed. This inflammation usually affects the lower wisdom teeth more so than the upper wisdom teeth.
WHAT CAUSES PERICORONITIS?
Pericoronitis is caused by an accumulation of bacteria. A partially erupted tooth creates a gum flap or an opening where food particles and debris can get wedged around the tooth, leading to a buildup of bacteria. Infection can then develop by forming an abscess under the excess gum tissue.
Pericoronitis symptoms can be broken up into two categories, acute and chronic.
The symptoms of acute pericoronitis include:
- Severe pain near your third molars, possibly causing difficulty chewing as well as sleep disruption
- Swelling of gum tissue
- Difficulty and pain when swallowing
- The discharge of pus
- Difficulty in opening your mouth and jaw
The symptoms of chronic pericoronitis include:
- Bad breath (Halitosis)
- Leaking pus from the gums, which can create a bad taste in your mouth
- A dull ache that can last one or two days
The intensity of the symptoms you may experience depends on how severe the infection is.
How is Pericoronitis treated?
After taking note of your symptoms, a clinical examination, and an x-ray if needed, our oral surgeons will determine if your wisdom teeth have partially erupted. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, the treatment options are as follows:
- The use of oral irrigators and an oral rinse to flush out food debris and bacteria.
- The use of pain medication to manage or alleviate the pain near the molar. You may also be prescribed oral antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, to reduce the amount of swollen gum tissue.
- Removal of the gum flap covering the tooth by means of minor oral surgery. This will allow for proper cleaning of the area.
- Extraction of the wisdom tooth
Our Oral Surgeons at Bay Area OSM are able to evaluate your needs and alleviate your discomfort. Addressing these symptoms as early as possible can help to avoid complications from occurring like Ludwig’s angina.
HOW CAN I TREAT PERICORONITIS AT HOME?
There are effective ways to treat mild pericoronitis at home. The most helpful steps are listed below.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine.
- Use a warm saltwater rinse to soothe the inflammation.
- Use diluted hydrogen peroxide to reduce bacteria in your mouth.
- Use an oral irrigator to keep the area clean.
Although these steps can help reduce the severity of your symptoms for a while, it is vital that you seek medical advice if your symptoms intensify. Our oral surgeons can give you the treatment you need to reduce your pain and lower the risk of wisdom tooth infection.
For more information about pericoronitis, we encourage you to schedule an appointment. If you are feeling any symptoms, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment at one of our Bay Area OSM offices today! We look forward to helping you receive the best treatment, relieving your symptoms, and putting your mind at ease.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHO IS AFFECTED BY PERICORONITIS?
Most commonly, people who are in their 20s. However, it can also affect those of different age groups.
WHAT FACTORS CAN INCREASE MY CHANCES OF DEVELOPING PERICORONITIS?
- Poor oral hygiene
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Not seeing your general dentist for routine checkups and cleanings
HOW LONG DOES PERICORONITIS LAST?
If not treated, symptoms of pericoronitis can last for a few days to weeks, depending on how severe your symptoms are. However, within one to two weeks of treatment, the condition should resolve.