Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue around the crown portion of a tooth. It usually affects the third or lower molar (wisdom tooth) where gum tissue covers the chewing surface of the tooth. This dental disorder can be either acute or chronic. If it is acute, then there can be mild persistent inflammation around the affected area. For chronic pericoronitis, you can experience fever, swelling and pain that can lead to infection.
If you have inflamed gums around a wisdom tooth, then pericoronitis can be one of the reasons. To find out everything about this dental disorder, keep reading this blog-post.
This dental problem generally occurs among people who are in their twenties due to several reasons such as:
- Poor oral hygiene
- A wisdom tooth that hasn’t erupted properly
- Emotional stress
- Excess gum tissue
Chronic and acute are the two levels of severity of pericoronitis and each one has different set of symptoms. Here they are.
Symptoms of Chronic pericoronitis include:
- Mild discomfort
- Change of taste in the mouth
- Sore gums in the affected area
These signs usually last for one to two days and then disappear. But they can relapse over a period of time if not treated.
Symptoms of acute pericoronitis (usually last for three to four days and they include):
- Acute pain that may lead to sleepless nights
- Swollen gums that can lead to a puffy face
- Discharge of pus or fluid
- Discomfort in swallowing food
- Swollen lymph under the chin
When you feel pain around your wisdom tooth, you should consult your dentist as early as possible. He/she will examine your wisdom teeth first to check how they are growing. This allows him/her to see if is a partially erupted wisdom tooth that needs immediate attention. X-rays can be done to better understand the alignment of these teeth. Symptoms like swelling or infection and the gum flap are also checked.
There are different types of treatments based on the severity.
- If the pericoronitis is limited to the tooth which means there is no pain or swollen cheeks, then you can treat it by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. But you should make sure that the gum flap has no trapped food under it.
- If you have inflamed gums, a swollen jaw or cheeks, you should visit your dentist right away. He/she can treat these problems with a few antibiotics like penicillin. Pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help.Your dentist can also prescribe pain medication if he/she feels it is necessary.
- For severe pain and inflammation or if pericoronitis recurs, oral surgery can be a solution to remove the wisdom tooth or gum flap. Your dentist can refer you to an oral or maxillo facial surgeon who can treat you with a low-level laser to reduce pain and inflammation.
Here are a couple of tips that can help you prevent this dental problem.
- Maintain good oral hygiene which includes regular brushing and flossing to remove dirt and food particles stuck in between your teeth and gums.
- You should visit your orthodontist at least once a month for a regular check-up. He/she can detect pericoronitis or any other dental issue from an early stage and treat it on time to prevent future complications.
There are some home remedies that can give you temporary relief if you’re unable to get in touch with your dentist and they are:
- Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water
- Using oral water irrigators
- Brushing and flossing twice a day
- Buying over-the-counter pain relievers
NOTE- You should avoid hot compresses and contact a dentist as soon as possible if you have a fever.
Though the main complication of this dental issue is pain and swelling, there are some rare conditions that can develop. Ludwig angina which is an infection that spreads into head and neck is one. There is another life-threatening infection that can spread to the bloodstream and that is sepsis. To avoid such issues, you should always consult with your dentist as soon as possible whenever symptoms present themselves.
These are all the important things that you should know about. It may not be a lethal problem but if it is not treated soon, it can lead to unnecessary oral problems that hamper your health. So, apart from practising a good oral health routine like brushing or flossing, you should also go for regular dental check-ups.
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