Pericoronitis: Causes, symptoms and treatment
If one day, you experience soreness in the tooth which is at the back of the mouth (also known as wisdom tooth), there is a high chance you are getting pericoronitis. This is a phenomenon that most people suffer from in their late teens or early twenties.
Causes of pericoronitis
Pericoronitis is inflammation of the tissue surrounding a wisdom tooth (a third molar). It most often occurs when the wisdom teeth partially grow (through the gums). The bacteria will then have the opportunity to penetrate the area around the teeth and cause infection. In addition, food and plaque build-up around the roots, causing irritation like bleeding gum, which can lead to pericoronitis.
If this condition persists without proper treatment, it will cause swelling and infection that extend beyond the jaw to the cheeks and neck.
Symptoms of pericoronitis
The symptoms of pericoronitis may vary, depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic.
If it is acute, the symptoms include:
- Severe pain near the front teeth.
- Swollen gum tissue.
- Pain when chewing and swallowing.
- Pus discharge in the area around the teeth.
- Mild fever
Chronic pericoronitis can include the following symptoms:
- Bad breath
- A mild or dull ache, lasting for 1-2 days
- Difficult to open mouth
How to diagnose pericoronitis?
Your dentist will check your wisdom teeth, whether they are normally grown or impacted, fully or partially erupted. If necessary, you may have a dental X-ray to understand the connections of the wisdom teeth and jawbone as well as the surrounding teeth. Your dentist will also take note of any symptoms such as swelling or infection, which will determine if you have pericoronitis.
Complications of pericoronitis
The main complication of pericoronitis is pain and swelling around the wisdom teeth. You will have difficulty biting, chewing food, even when swallowing saliva. In some cases, the infection can spread from an infected wisdom tooth to other areas in the mouth.
While rare, a person experiencing pericoronitis can develop a life-threatening complication called “Ludwig’s angina”, in which the infection spreads into their head and neck. In addition, another rare but dangerous complication of pericoronitis is sepsis, in which the infection spreads to the bloodstream.
How to treat pericoronitis?
The dentist will advise you a proper treatment due to different levels of severity.
Manage the pain
If the situation is not so severe, you do not need to have the tooth pulled out. The dentist will clean the gum tissue around the tooth to prevent buildup of food particles and plaque. If the gums become infected, the dentist will take tartar as well as the pus out. Your dentist may use a local anesthetic to help with the pain during this process.
Learn more: The importance of tartar removal
In parallel, you will also be prescribed antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin (Erythrocin Stearate).
Get an oral surgery
In the case of wisdom teeth that grow in the right angle but not appear yet or just partially erupt, the dentist will perform oral surgery to the gums to help the teeth erupt.
Remove flap of gum tissue
The swollen or inflamed gum will be surgically removed to avoid spreading out. However, sometimes the flap grows back. At this time, the dentist will consider continuing to remove gums or tooth extraction.
Get a tooth extraction
This is indicated when the dentist finds it difficult to improve the swelling of your wisdom teeth gums. Also, if your wisdom tooth is impacted, you need to extract it to prevent horizontal wisdom teeth complications.
Learn about wisdom tooth extraction in the following article: Wisdom Teeth Removal: Procedure and Complications
Although it is important to see your dentist for proper treatment, your dentist may advise many home remedies. Obviously, they are not an alternative for professional treatment but will somewhat relieve unpleasant symptoms.
Home remedies include:
- Keep oral hygiene: When getting pericoronitis, you need to clean the oral cavity for 2-3 times per day by rinsing with physiological saline or diluted saline. Don't forget to brush and floss your teeth after every meal.
- Take antibiotics and pain relievers.
- Use natural ingredients such as tea bags, onions, ice packs,... put directly on the spot.
What to eat if you have pericoronitis?
Things you can eat
- Soft, easy-to-swallow foods like porridge, soup, etc. can help your chewing muscles from not working too much. In order not to lack adequate nutrition, you should add minced meat/shrimp, shredded fish, eggs, vegetables, etc. into your diet.
- Drink plenty of milk, smoothies, fruit juices to replenish vitamins and minerals for the body.
Things you should not eat
- Foods that worsen the situation of your gums such as glutinous rice, sticky rice, chicken, water spinach, etc.
- Hot spicy ingredients such as chili, pepper, garlic, etc.
- Sour food, which makes your teeth more painful.
- Alcoholic or carbonated beverages, caffeine also make your teeth and gums more ache and swell.
What is the outlook for pericoronitis?
Once the tooth has been removed, pericoronitis rarely returns. People usually recover from treatment in about two weeks’ time after removal. To prevent pericoronitis from threatening other wisdom teeth, you need to see your dentist and clean the mouth cavity regularly.