What Is Pericoronitis?

Young man talking by smartphone and looking away while suffering from tooth pain at home. - Pinole, CAHave you recently been suffering from severe pain in the back corners of your gums? This could be a sign of pericoronitis. If you suspect that you have severe pericoronitis, you should contact an oral health specialist such as the ones at Pinole Oral Surgery – located in Pinole, CA, to schedule a clinical evaluation today. Unsure what pericoronitis is? We’ll help explain everything you need to know.

Pericoronitis develops when a partially erupted wisdom tooth becomes infected and causes periodontal disease. It often happens when a flap of gum tissue prevents the lower wisdom teeth from entirely breaking through the gums. If left for too long, pericoronitis can lead to severe side effects, so be sure to have it treated as soon as possible.

Keep reading to learn the symptoms of pericoronitis and how your dentist can treat this clinical dilemma.

What Causes Pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis happens when your mandibular third molars cannot fully break through your gums. Also known as wisdom teeth, the third and final set of molars typically start growing once you reach young adulthood. By the time you’re in your 20’s, they should begin breaking through the gums.

Unfortunately, your wisdom teeth can become blocked or grow crooked if there’s not enough space in your mouth. Often, a gum flap will obstruct the area, causing the tooth to become impacted. As inflammation and swelling start to build, this leads to pericoronitis.

Symptoms Of Pericoronitis

The symptoms of pericoronitis vary depending on how far the infection has spread. If caught early, you’ll likely only suffer from acute pericoronitis:

Acute Symptoms Of Pericoronitis

  • Intense pain in the back corners of your gums
  • Swollen gum tissue
  • Overlapping gum tissue
  • Bad breath
  • A foul taste in your mouth
  • A persistent dull headache

If the infection has been left to spread for too long, you may develop a case of chronic pericoronitis.

Chronic Symptoms Of Pericoronitis

  • Oozing pus
  • A tense or locked jaw
  • Muscle spasms in your jaw
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sepsis

Risks Of Pericoronitis

As your molars become impacted, it can be difficult to clean them properly. As food particles accumulate around the impaction site, bacteria will begin breaking down the tooth, leading to dental decay and infection.

If you manage to catch the infection early, you can avoid most of the risks associated with pericoronitis. Most commonly, you’ll notice some swelling and pain around your wisdom teeth. If the swelling is left untreated for too long, it can make it difficult to chew and swallow food and even lead to lockjaw.

In a worst-case scenario, the infection may spread outside of your gums, leading to Ludwig’s angina or even sepsis. If you suspect that you have either of these conditions, seek medical attention immediately.

Treatments for Pericoronitis

When you schedule an appointment at Pinole Oral Surgery – located in Pinole, CA – one of our dentists will inspect your mouth for any signs of an impacted or partially impacted wisdom tooth. If your dentist finds anything, you’ll then receive an x-ray to assess how severe the impaction is. The severity of the impaction and the treatment needed will affect the overall cost of removing the wisdom tooth.

From there, you’ll begin treatment:

  1. The dentist will reduce swelling around the tooth and drain any pus.
  2. The dentist will remove the soft tissue to expose the impacted wisdom tooth.
  3. Your dentist will remove the tooth with a simple extraction.

If the tooth is too severely impacted, you may require minor oral surgery. Your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon who will remove the partially erupted tooth.

Aftercare For Pericoronitis

If your dentist was able to remove the affected tooth using a simple extraction, you’ll need to take a few precautions to prevent a new infection:


Initially, your dentist may have applied local anesthesia to numb the area before extracting the tooth. The anesthesia should wear off within a few hours but be careful not to eat anything while still in effect. You could end up chewing on your tongue or cheek without realizing it.

Managing The Pain

After the anesthesia wears off, you can take an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage the pain. It will take a few weeks for the extraction site to fully recover, so be careful not to take too much pain medication. It can be quite hard on your liver and kidneys.

Cleaning Your Teeth

First, your dentist will clean your teeth and gums to remove food debris and bacteria that could cause infection. They will also use a diluted hydrogen peroxide oral rinse to sanitize the area. You can continue using this rinse after you eat to clear away food debris and manage your oral hygiene.

Contact Us for More Information

Don’t wait too long if you suspect you have a case of pericoronitis. The sooner you schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at Pinole Oral Surgery, the sooner we can stop the spreading of infection.

Give us a call today to book your consultation!

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