Pericoronitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Posted on: 1 February 2016

The inflammation of the oral tissues surrounding the dental crown of an erupting tooth is known as pericoronitis. This disorder is also referred to as operculitis, and it will affect your gingival gum tissues and even the dental follicles. Pericoronitis is a condition that primarily affects wisdom teeth or third molars, particularly in the lower dental arch. This problem can be attributed to the common eruption challenge related to wisdom teeth growth. In simple terms, most of these molars will erupt only partially or become impacted, making them vulnerable to infection. Here is basic information on causes, symptoms and treatment to help you understand pericoronitis.

Causes

Pericoronitis will occur because the operculum creates an area that supports bacterial growth and accumulation of debris. The operculum refers to the soft tissue that you will notice overlying the pertinent partially erupted tooth. This flesh is vulnerable to infiltration by microorganism populations, particularly the usual plaque found in the oral cavity. The infection will lead to inflammation of this and other tissues surrounding the tooth. In addition, you should note that adequate cleaning of plaque and remaining food particles in this area can be difficult due to the loose tissue and the unstable tooth eruption. Pericoronitis can also be attributed to mechanical damage and subsequent injury. If you accidentally bite the operculum with the opposing tooth, the tissues will be traumatised and inflamed.

Symptoms

The most apparent symptom of pericoronitis is tenderness and pain in the affected area. This might spread to ears, throat and the oral floor, and you are likely to feel pain when biting. Redness and swelling of the soft tissues is also common, and pus will be formed and exuded, particularly when some pressure is exerted on the inflamed tissues. The bacteria attacking the operculum will cause putrefying of the proteins in the tissues, causing the release of malodourous compounds. Consequently, you will suffer from halitosis, and your mouth will taste bad due to these unfavourable emissions. Other genera symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing and facial swelling.

Treatment Options

If you are experiencing extreme pain, the condition can be treated as an emergency. The dentist will administer local anaesthetic to numb the tissue, and an incision can be made to drain pus and reduce the bacterial population. Debridement, which is the thorough cleaning of gum pockets, will be carried out to decelerate the spread of infection and control inflammation. In more serious cases, tooth extraction and surgical removal of the operculum might be recommended to resolve the pericoronitis permanently. 

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