Pericoronitis – Gum infection associated with Wisdom Teeth
When the wisdom teeth are erupting, usually during the late adolescence or early 20s, many problems can occur inside the mouth. When the tooth is not yet fully erupted, pericoronitis can occur.
Pericoronitis is one of the most common problems related to wisdom teeth. When the tooth is pushing up through the gum, it takes a while. This means there is a flap of gum tissue covering the tooth can easily hold food particles and plaque. “As the hygiene of the area is not very easy to maintain, the presence of food waste can be constant and plaque bacteria will grow, causing inflammation and infection in the area”, explains Dr. Rozelle Owens. Symptoms range from medium or excessive pain and swelling to difficulty opening the mouth, sore throat, and bad breath. In more severe cases, symptoms may also include fever, earache and difficulty breathing! Moreover, as this area will be swollen, it is quite possible that the opposite tooth above the area exacerbates the problem by biting down on the swollen gum causing more swelling and pain. Ouch!
Sometimes the wisdom teeth come up at the wrong angle causing them to become Impacted. This means that the tooth is not in the right position and is unable to erupt fully. When they are impacted, they cannot come up normally and the gum may never reveal the tooth. This means repeated bouts of pericoronitis may occur.
Treatment of pericoronitis – The reaction of patients affected by pericoronitis is to avoid touching the site during brushing, either to avoid pain or because of the fear of worsening the situation. “In fact, the treatment is precisely the opposite. It is necessary to intensify the cleaning of the area, in order to remove food particles and plaque bacteria that have accumulated below the gum. Patients also need to use salty water mouthwash and perform at least four rinses throughout the day for about 10 minutes” adds Owens. To make a salty mouthwash: put one to two teaspoons of salt in a cup of warm water.
In more severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary. If the tooth is impacted, usually surgical removal is indicated and can be performed under local anaesthetic by a specialist oral surgeon. Sometimes more than one or all four wisdom teeth can be taken out at the same time under general anaesthetic.
Pericoronitis go away on its own? Untreated pericoronitis can be very painful and in severe cases dangerous as the area is very close to the airway in the neck. Swelling in this area could cause difficulty breathing. If you have pain associated with wisdom teeth try salty mouthwashes and cleaning the area thoroughly. If the pain persists you need to visit your dentist. Even if the pain does go away and the infection heals, its best to get it checked in case the teeth are impacted.
Pericoronitis – How long does it last? Untreated, it can last weeks and progress to a dangerous level quite quickly. When treated it will clear up quickly being completely healed in a few days.
If you think you have pericoronitis, don’t worry: it’s very treatable. Try our tips and see your dentist. 😀