Pericoronitis Fact Sheet: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is pericoronitis?

  • It is a condition when the gum around a growing or erupting wisdom tooth becomes swollen and infected.
  • It is a dental condition commonly seen in young adults.

 How does it occur?

  • It occurs when the wisdom tooth breaks through the gum (partially erupts), creating an opening for food and bacteria to enter around the tooth, irritating the gum.
why our third molars are called wisdom teeth

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain and swelling around the wisdom tooth.
  • Pain on chewing on the affected side.
  • Soreness around the gum.
  • Difficulty opening of the mouth.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fever
  • In severe cases, pus accumulation around the gum.

How is pericoronitis diagnosed?

  • It is diagnosed based on symptoms and appearance when you visit the dentist.
  • A dental X-ray is usually taken to assess the area and rule out other possible causes for pain, such as tooth decay.

How is pericoronitis treated?

Depending on the severity of the condition, it can be treated by:

  • relieving pain and resolving the infection in mild cases.

In more severe cases;

  • removal of the overlapping gum tissue (the procedure is called operculectomy).
  • removing the wisdom tooth.

How can pericoronitis be managed at home?

  • Keeping a good oral hygiene.
  • Frequent rinsing of the mouth with warm salt water. 
  • Antiseptic mouth rinse e.g Chlohexidene and Oral Pain Relief e.g Bonjela can be used. 
  • Analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to relieve the pain.
  • Antibiotics prescribed by your dentist or GP (amoxicillin or erythromycin) is used to treat the infection. 

NOTE: If severe or symptoms recur, it is necessary to visit your dentist to remove the gum flap or the wisdom tooth.

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