What is Pericoronitis and Does It Need Treatment?

Signs and Symptoms and Treatment Advice

Pericoronitis is the swelling and infection of the gum tissue that surrounds the wisdom teeth. It won’t just go away, so it needs treatment. Know more about this condition which is common among late teens and those in the early 20’s.

In many instances, a partially erupted or impacted molar has not fully emerged through the gums. It is most common around the lower wisdom teeth, although it can also happen to the upper molars. If the wisdom teeth on the upper jaw emerge before those on the lower jaw, the upper tooth may bite down on this impacted tooth, which can cause irritation and swelling of the soft tissue around the lower molar.

That partially-erupted wisdom tooth can leave a flap of gum tissue that collects food particles and other debris, including bacteria. Since such teeth are harder to clean, they increase the risks of infection, and can lead to gingivitis. Hence, the condition of pericoronitis occurs.

What are the symptoms of pericoronitis? Some of the milder symptoms are swollen and painful gum tissue around or near the partially erupted tooth. It can cause pain and discomfort if you bite down or hit that tooth while eating. A pus discharge from the affected gums may produce a foul odor or taste in the mouth.

If left unattended, severe symptoms may include swelling in that part of the face, swollen lymph nodes, and jaw pain. This means that infection has spread further, even reaching the throat and neck. Breathing and swallowing may become difficult, and that is quite alarming. A dentist visit is essential.

How is pericoronitis treated?

Your dentist may start by flushing out the area around the impacted tooth to remove debris. Antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the pus. After some x-rays, extraction of the affected tooth and its opposing one may be recommended, either in one sitting or in separate visits. It’s generally a good idea to remove both top and bottom wisdom teeth if either is likely to remain impacted and if you want to avoid the increased risk of gingivitis due to tooth misalignment. In severe cases, if a flap of gum tissue is present, minor oral surgery may be done.


Watching Out for Gum Health in Bellevue

If you or a member of your family are within the age bracket of wisdom tooth eruption, see us at Overlake Dental for some helpful information about gum health.