Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around molar teeth, such as an impacted wisdom tooth, or one that's partially broken through. It usually affects the lower third molar (wisdom) tooth where gum tissue overlaps the chewing surface of the tooth. Pericoronitis can be either chronic or acute.
Pericoronitis can be treated through three ways depending upon the severity of the condition:
1. Management of pain and resolving of infection.
2. Minor surgery to remove the overlapping gum tissue (operculum)
3. Removal of the tooth
To manage the pain of pericoronitis, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used. If only the tooth is affected and the infection hasn’t spread, you can treat it by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. You should also make sure that the gum flap has no food trapped under it. Your dentist can clean the area thoroughly with anaesthesia. If you are experiencing swelling in the tooth, jaw or cheek, or you have fever, oral antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin will be prescribed.
If your tooth is useful and you wish to keep it, minor surgery can help to remove the operculum. With this, the dentist has better access to properly clean the area and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. In some cases, the gum tissue may grow back and create the same problem.
Extraction of the tooth is the most common treatment option since the position of wisdom teeth is poor often times and they do not erupt completely. If the tooth is removed, any future occurrences of pericoronitis are eliminated.
In rare instances, the symptoms become so severe that an individual needs to go the hospital emergency room to seek care due to the rapid spread of infection.
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