Pericoronitis, also known as operculitis is a dental disorder that affects the soft tissues surrounding a partially erupted wisdom tooth. The gum tissue becomes infected and swollen. If treated properly using antibiotics, even severe effects of this disorder will go away in about 1-2 weeks.
Complete recovery will depend on how far the infection has spread and the method of treatment adopted. Pericoronitis infection can either be chronic or acute. In more severe cases, the affected individual experiences difficulty in chewing food as moving the jaws becomes difficult. In such a case, it becomes necessary to seek the services of a dentist or oral surgeon.
Development of Pericoronitis
Pericoronitis commonly affects young people in their 20s. The cause is similar to how gum abscess forms (periodontitis) through the entrapment of food debris beneath the gingival tissue. If severe, the infection and swelling associated with pericoronitis may extend and go beyond the jaw reaching the cheeks and neck.
The condition develops when the wisdom teeth lack enough room to erupt normally through the gums. Because of that, the wisdom tooth may manage to only partially come through the gum. This could trigger soft tissue inflammation and infection around your wisdom tooth.
If they only partially erupt, the person may also develop gum flaps. These are potential areas where food particles get trapped and bacteria build up to cause infection.
What are the Symptoms?
Chronic pericoronitis symptoms include:
- Dull pain
- Persistent mild discomfort
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Swollen gum
Although chronic symptoms may often only last for between 1 and 2 days they may keep recurring over several months. The symptoms of pericoronitis can vary depending on the severity and stage of the infection.
Diagnosing The Symptoms
Your dentist will typically examine the wisdom teeth to check how they are coming up. An X-ray may be taken every so often to track the alignment of your wisdom teeth. The dentist will also look for common symptoms such as infection or swelling, and if a gum flap is developing around your wisdom tooth.
Managing and Treating Pericoronitis
For minor pericoronitis cases, some simple home remedies may help in alleviating and treating the symptoms. However, home remedies are not recommended if you are experiencing severe pericoronitis symptoms. If limited to the tooth, try rinsing the mouth using warm salt water and ensure that your gum flap doesn’t have food trapped underneath.
When your tooth, cheeks, and jaw are swollen and painful, it’s vital to visit a dentist right away. These symptoms can be managed with the administration of antibiotics. The dentist may also decide to prescribe suitable pain medication. For severe pericoronitis symptoms or if it comes back, oral surgery may be required to remove the wisdom tooth or gum flap.
Any Home Remedies?
Treating pericoronitis at home can be tricky as the overlying gum flap will persist until the wisdom tooth emerges fully. This is unlikely or unless an oral surgeon removes it. Pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can help in pain management but the underlying issue remains unresolved or it may recur.
Don’t try using warm compresses on your cheek or face. The best option, if you recognize any of the symptoms is to seek professional treatment right away.
If your wisdom teeth begin showing signs of emerging, visit your dentist for a checkup, at least twice a year. During those visits, the dentist can check and track the growth progress. That way, you can take due care and be aware of the possibility of Pericoronitis developing.
The good thing about pericoronitis is that it doesn’t trigger any long-term health effects. Once the affected tooth fully erupts or gets removed, this condition cannot return. For advanced cases of pericoronitis that require hospitalization, regular antibiotics will usually handle the infection before the affected tooth gets removed.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.