Pericoronitis is most commonly caused when gum tissue overlaps the lower third molar, otherwise known as the wisdom tooth. Food and bacteria can get stuck underneath this gum flap, which makes the tooth difficult to access and clean. This can result in a large buildup of bacteria. Acute pericoronitis is when the symptoms – fever, swelling and pain – intensify due to the spreading of the infection.
In many circumstances, in order to effectively treat pericoronitis, either the gum flap will have to be removed or the affected tooth will have to be extracted. While you can treat the infection, unless the tooth fully erupts, the problem will likely re-occur.
Controlling the Pain
The first stage of treatment is to manage the pain and control the infection. Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, are recommended. If the pain and swelling are severe, your dentist may choose to flush the infection and thoroughly clean beneath the flap while you're under local anaesthesia. Oral antibiotics may also be necessary, especially if the pericoronitis reaches the acute stage. When this happens, you may have trouble opening and closing your mouth.
Removing the Operculum or the Tooth
The operculum is the flap of gum that overlaps the wisdom tooth. In some instances, minor surgery can be performed to remove it and gain access to the tooth. However, the gum flap can grow back; therefore, a complete wisdom tooth removal is usually the preferred option. Dental surgery cannot be conducted unless the infection is under control first.
Using Home Remedies
While mild symptoms can be treated at home, acute pericoronitis will require professional dental care. If suffering from mild symptoms, thoroughly brush the affected area with a soft-bristled toothbrush – like those designed for children. This will help keep plaque at bay without causing too much pain. Use warm salt water to soothe and sterilize the area. If symptoms don't reside within a few days, consult a dentist
When pericoronitis becomes acute, you should contact an emergency dentist as soon as possible – the severity of the symptoms can escalate very quickly. While the condition can usually be treated and eliminated within one week with proper care, improper management could be very dangerous. Pericoronitis infections can spread to the head and neck, and in some extreme cases, could be life threatening.
Like most dental problems, pericoronitis can be avoided with general pre-emptive care. That said, while regularly visiting the dentist and cleaning the operculum can keep symptoms at bay, extraction is usually the only sure fire treatment. If you experience any sudden or extreme symptoms, visit an emergency dentist such as Runcorn Dental.Share
21 April 2016
As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.