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Expert Article: Pericoronitis, An Unfamiliar But Agonizing Dental Issue

The term pericoronitis refers to inflamed and painful gums around a tooth. Typically, it affects a lower wisdom tooth that has become impacted. The condition is frequently ignored, and the consulting dentist rarely explains it. If not treated promptly, it can become a nuisance.

What happens in pericoronitis?

A fully erupted tooth does not develop pericoronitis. A flap of gum called an operculum covers a partially erupted tooth, such as an impacted wisdom tooth. The tooth is partially visible and partly hidden inside the operculum.

A tooth bud rests in a cavity called a follicle before the eruption. When a tooth is impacted, a direct link is established between the follicle and the mouth. As a result, food and debris easily enter the follicle, causing infection. If the infection spreads to the operculum, pericoronitis can occur, causing pain and swelling.

Factors that trigger pericoronitis:

  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Stress.
  • Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy.
  • Age: 20s.
  • Infections of the throat.

Pericoronitis symptoms:

  • A dull ache in the affected jaw can become severe and acute at times.
  • The operculum is inflamed and swollen.
  • Chewing is a challenge.
  • There is a headache and earache on the affected side.
  • Bad breath and a mildly salty taste in the mouth.
  • It could ooze pus if left untreated.
  • Infection of the throat and swollen lymph nodes are possible side effects.

Pericoronitis is diagnosed as follows:

  • It is visible during a routine dental examination.
  • Radiographs
  • The patient complains of pain and discomfort.

Pericoronitis treatment:

  • Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications are taken orally.
  • Operculectomy is a minor surgical procedure that reshapes the operculum to prevent food from becoming trapped beneath it.
  • Extraction entails removing the impacted tooth and reshaping the operculum to remove the causative factor.

Prevent pericoronitis at home with these DIY guidelines:

If you have an affected lower wisdom tooth, you won't be able to avoid pericoronitis. You can only delay it. You can do so in a variety of ways, including:

  • Brush the area thoroughly.
  • Food debris should not be allowed to accumulate.
  • To remove all debris, use a water flosser.
  • Rinse with a warm water solution containing a pinch of salt.
  • Keep your fingers away from the affected area.
  • Paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs are examples of medications.

Is it possible for pericoronitis to heal on its own?

Unfortunately, no!

Saltwater rinses and antibiotics can temporarily relieve it, but it has a high recurrence rate.


I'm sure many of you have already begun to rethink that dentist's appointment you've been putting off. Pericoronitis is a chronic condition that should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid further discomfort.

Story first published: Saturday, July 2, 2022, 9:15 [IST]
Read more about: pericoronitis oral care
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