Dental problems can be a real pain, both literally and figuratively. One such dental issue that can cause a great deal of discomfort is pericoronitis. This is a condition that affects the gum tissue surrounding partially erupted teeth, typically wisdom teeth. Pericoronitis can be quite painful and can lead to serious infections if not treated in time. In this post, we’ll explore what pericoronitis is, its symptoms, causes, and most importantly, how to treat and prevent it.
What is Pericoronitis?
Pericoronitis is a condition that arises when the soft tissues surrounding the crown of a partially erupted tooth become inflamed. Because of their partial eruption, an opening around the tooth is created, allowing bacteria and food particles to get trapped, causing inflammation and infection.
Failing to keep the area clean can lead to infection, which can become severe if left untreated. The inflammation can spread, causing pain, discomfort, and swelling. It can also lead to gum disease and tooth decay. If you notice any signs of pericoronitis, it is essential to see a dentist as soon as possible.
The symptoms of pericoronitis can vary, from mild to severe, chronic or acute. Chronic pericoronitis is a mild inflammation that has no or minor symptoms. On the other hand, acute pericoronitis is more severe and has intense and widespread symptoms, including swelling, pain, fever, and difficulty swallowing.
The Different Types of Pericoronitis
Chronic Pericoronitis: Chronic pericoronitis is a mild form of infection that occurs over an extended period. It typically causes mild inflammation and discomfort around the infected area and usually does not lead to many severe symptoms. Some common signs of chronic pericoronitis include swollen gums, bad breath, and minor discomfort along the infected tooth’s gum line.
Acute Pericoronitis: Acute pericoronitis is the more intense form of pericoronitis. It occurs when the infection spreads to the surrounding tissues and causes more severe symptoms. Some of these symptoms include swelling, fever, intense pain, bleeding gums, and difficulty in opening the mouth. If left untreated, acute pericoronitis can lead to severe complications like an abscess or cellulitis. Acute pericoronitis may need immediate medical attention depending on its severity.
Factors That Increase the Likelihood of Pericoronitis
#1 Poor Oral Hygiene: The most common factor of pericoronitis is poor oral hygiene. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, bacteria thrive in your mouth. These bacteria cause plaque and tartar accumulation, which can eventually lead to gum inflammation. The inflammation can then spread to your wisdom teeth, causing pericoronitis. It is therefore essential to maintain good oral hygiene to avoid pericoronitis.
#2 Weakened Immune System: Having a weak immune system can also increase the likelihood of pericoronitis. It impairs your body’s ability to fight off infections, making it more susceptible to developing gum inflammation. If you have an underlying medical condition that weakens your immune system, it’s important to continue taking any medications prescribed by your doctor.
#3 Genetics: Genetics can play a role in the development of pericoronitis. Some people are more susceptible to gum inflammation and disease, regardless of how well they take care of their oral health. If your family has a history of periodontal disease or other gum conditions, you may be more likely to develop pericoronitis.
How Pericoronitis is Diagnosed
During the dental exam, a detailed medical and dental history of the patient will be taken. The dentist will visually inspect the gums and teeth. They may also use a dental probe to check for tenderness or drainage in the gums. X-rays may be taken to confirm the diagnosis or determine if any other treatment is necessary.
In some cases, the dentist may refer the patient to a dental specialist, such as an oral surgeon. This may be necessary when the pericoronitis is severe, resulting in multiple infections and abscesses.
How Pericoronitis is Treated
One of the most common treatments for pericoronitis is the use of antibiotics to reduce inflammation and fight infection. This is usually prescribed by a dentist after a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition. Antibiotics can be taken orally or applied directly to the affected area. They are a temporary measure, and long-term solutions such as dental surgery may be necessary if pericoronitis persists even after antibiotic treatment.
Pericoronitis can be an uncomfortable dental problem to deal with, but it’s not uncommon. By understanding its symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention, you can take care of your oral health and avoid complications associated with partially erupted teeth. Always remember to practice good dental hygiene, visit your dentist regularly, and seek professional treatment and guidance when needed. With these precautions in place, you can keep your smile healthy and shining bright.