In the past, we (as a species) needed our wisdom teeth. Also known as our third molars, these additional teeth often made their appearance in late adolescence. Because our diets were tougher in the past, our teeth would be at increased risk of erosion. Our wisdom teeth helped supplement our teeth, allowing us to live beyond childhood. Now that our diets are softer and more processed, these teeth are now redundant. Because of this, many complications can arise when wisdom teeth make their appearance. In addition to impaction, we here at Madison Oral Surgery & Dental Implants have also encountered another condition that can occur at the site of the wisdom teeth. This painful condition is known as pericoronitis.
What is Pericoronitis?
Sometimes a patient’s wisdom teeth can arrive without fuss or fanfare. However, this is quite rare, and many people do encounter complications that can occur when the wisdom teeth show up. One common complication is impaction. In these cases, the wisdom tooth may need to be extracted.
When a patient can sustain their wisdom teeth, without requiring extraction, another problem can eventually arise. This can occur when a small portion of gum tissue gets trapped between the teeth, typically the wisdom teeth. Sometimes this problem can resolve itself and go away without any issues. When it does not, and the trapped gums become inflamed, then pericoronitis occurs.
Who is at Risk for Pericoronitis?
Certain individuals are at increased risk of this painful condition. It typically affects patients who are in their twenties (between age 20 and 30, normally) and still have their wisdom teeth. It is more likely to occur in patients who have wisdom teeth that are not fully erupted, as well. Patients who do not practice good oral hygiene are also at increased risk of developing pericoronitis. Patients who are under stress, who are pregnant, and who have excessive gum tissue are also more likely to develop pericoronitis.
Symptoms of Pericoronitis
The signs of pericoronitis can vary, but they may include pain and inflammation at the site of the trapped gum tissue. An infection can occur, and it may also be accompanied by pus or swollen lymph nodes. The jaw may lock, as well. The patient may have pain or discomfort when swallowing. A foul odor or taste may also be present in the mouth, leading to bad breath (halitosis).
Treatment for Pericoronitis
The recommended treatment for pericoronitis can vary depending on the severity of the inflammation. If the flap of gum tissue is expected to correct itself without requiring intervention from us, we may simply advise pain management until the trapped tissue is released. If we do not suspect that it can be resolved without intervention, though, we may advise one of two treatment options. One option can include oral surgery to remove the portion of trapped gum tissue. Another treatment option may be to remove the tooth itself.
Developing pericoronitis can be quite painful and unpleasant for the patient. If you suspect that you may be suffering from it, or you are simply interested in learning more about this condition, please give us here at Madison Oral Surgery & Dental Implants a call today at (608) 274-0770!
The doctors of Madison Oral Surgery & Dental Implants would like to inform you of the enhanced safety protocol developed for our office in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with recommendations from the CDC, OSHA, American Dental Association, and local government, we have enhanced our already stringent protocols for hygiene and safety.
All patients and staff wear masks
All patients and guests are screened with a COVID-19 questionnaire and temperature check prior to admission to our clinic lobby. Hand hygiene is performed before entry.
All personnel have twice daily temperature checks
To allow for social distancing, we have reduced the number of patients and guests in the office at one time and spaced the seating in our lobby appropriately
Allow more time for disinfecting between patient encounters
Increased disinfection of frequently touched surfaces including counter tops, handles, lobby seating, and bathroom surfaces
New, single use pens to avoid germ sharing between patients and personnel
Procedural personnel wear N95/KN95 masks and face shields
MEET THE MADISON ORAL SURGERY & DENTAL IMPLANT TEAM AND SEE OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19