Pericoronitis is one of those medical terms that rarely comes up in daily conversation, and it sounds vaguely overwhelming. Infected wisdom tooth is quite a bit more common sounding, and it is no less intimidating. But, if you are having symptoms of an infected wisdom tooth, you are likely looking to understand both what’s going on and what you can do about it right away! So, what is pericoronitis and what can you do about it immediately and at home?
First, The Teeth
They’re called wisdom teeth because we’re older and wiser when they erupt–grow in. Dentists generally refer to them as third molars because they are the third set of molars to develop and grow in during the development of permanent teeth. On paper, it all looks fine, but in life, it can be more complex.
What Goes Wrong?
Problems can arise because the wisdom teeth are the last ones to the party. Wisdom teeth often find the oral environment crowded, leaving them not enough room to break through the gums. Sometimes, they can’t break through at all, becoming impacted wisdom teeth. Sometimes, they break through part of the way and get stuck or paused. This may sound like less of a problem, but it carries its own set of troubles.
Why Does This Cause Infection?
A tooth that has only come partway in frequently has a flap of gum tissue partially covering it. This flap can trap food particles under it and makes it harder to brush properly. The trapped particles and bacteria that aren’t removed by brushing irritate the gum tissue. Bacteria + irritated tissue = a formula for trouble.
So, Explain Pericoronitis
It’s from several Latin and Greek terms: peri meaning around, corona meaning crown, and -itis meaning inflamed. So, pericoronitis is inflammation of the tissue surrounding the crown of the tooth.
What Do I Do About It?
If you are in pain, you will need to check in with your dentist. You may need a long term treatment plan to determine if your wisdom tooth will need to be extracted. Sometimes, the tooth will be fine if the excess gum flap is removed. Infections in the gums and tooth can spread to the jaw, or in very rare cases, the bloodstream, so it’s important to take this seriously.
Home Treatment Plans
The first thing you’ll want to do is reduce the swelling and inflammation and address the bacterial growth. Antibiotic rinses can provide both symptom relief and provide important treatment. Rinsing with warm saltwater is a good start. Antibiotic treatment with an alcohol-free antibiotic dental rinse can help with more inflamed tissue. Regular use can also keep gums from overgrowing bacteria while waiting for the wisdom tooth to grow in or can help clean up an infection before treating the inflamed gums.
Of course, it’s vital to maintain excellent oral care while dealing with any oral condition. Bacteria neutralizing high pH products can help keep conditions unfavorable for future infection. If any symptoms worsen, it’s important to seek professional help right away to prevent serious complications.