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Pericoronitis and Your Wisdom Teeth

Why You Should See Your Dentist as Soon as Your Wisdom Teeth Come Through

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Your dental health involves more than brushing twice a day. There are a number of conditions and problems that you need to look out for, many of which occur in an otherwise healthy mouth. Pericoronitis can be a concern during your late teens and early twenties, when your wisdom teeth come through. It’s a potentially serious condition that can cause long and short term problems for your oral health. That’s why we’ve created this quick guide to this condition, so you can spot it while it’s still easy to treat.

What is Pericoronitis?


Wisdom teeth usually appear in your late teens or early twenties. They’re the third and final set of molars and grow at the very back of the mouth. Often there isn’t room for these teeth, and they have to be removed before they push out other teeth or grow down into your jaw bone. But when there is room for these teeth, sometimes they can cause a problem called pericoronitis. Pericoronitis is an infection in the gums around the wisdom teeth and it usually causes pain, swelling and discomfort.

Why Does Pericoronitis Occur?

People’s wisdom teeth grow late in life, and by the time they come through there usually isn’t enough room for them. This means that the teeth can’t grow cleanly through the gum. Instead, they partially erupt from the gum and get stuck, leaving gaps and holes in the gum. When food or plaque gets into the gaps, it usually ends up getting infected, which can lead to pericoronitis. This can be a serious condition, as the infection will often cause pain and swelling all through the mouth as well as in the face and throat.

Signs and Symptoms

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You should see your dentist as soon as you feel your wisdom teeth coming through. Your dentist can then take an X-ray to see if there’s enough room for the new teeth, and advise you on your options. They will also be able to see if there are any gaps, holes or gum flaps caused by the growth of the teeth that could cause problems. However, if you don’t or can’t get to see your dentist, you need to watch out for signs of infection around your new teeth. There are several symptoms of pericoronitis that you should be aware of including:

  • Pain in and around the affected area.
  • Swelling of the gum around the tooth.
  • Swelling of the face or throat on the infected side.
  • A bad taste in the mouth or bad breath caused by leaking pus.

How to Treat Pericoronitis

If the infection around the base of your wisdom tooth is mild, you can treat it by rinsing with warm salt water and making sure the gaps in your gums are kept clean. You also need to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Pericoronitis is usually a sign that your mouth is too crowded for your wisdom teeth, and they will need to be removed before they cause further problems.

If the infection is more severe, with obvious swelling in your face and neck, see your dentist immediately. You will need antibiotics to clear up the infection, and it’s a good idea to take some painkillers as well.

Paramount Dental Sydney Says

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For professional and individual dental care, make an appointment with our helpful staff here at Paramount Dental Sydney. We’ll help your smile look and feel the best it can be.