Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum around a partially erupted tooth.
It is seen most commonly in the mandibular third molars of young adults.
A new tooth cuts through the gums when it grows into the mouth. Germs can easily go under the gums in that place and cause an infection. When the opposite tooth bites against the sore gum it can make an infection worse.
What to look for
The inflammation is most often seen next to the last molars (wisdom teeth), especially the lower ones.
It may only last a short time during the eruption of these teeth but it may persist if they are impacted and unable to come through the gum completely – e.g. if there is insufficient room in the mouth.
Common symptoms and signs are:
- Bad taste
- Mouth cannot open properly
- Sore throat
- Inflammation and pus from beneath, the gum around tooth
- Toothache at the back of the jaw
It can also be made worse if an upper tooth is biting down onto the inflamed gum.
Clean the area around the tooth using a syringe of warm antiseptic (e.g. Hydrogen Peroxide).
Tell the patient to keep the mouth clean by using warm salt-water mouth rinses, 4 x daily, after meals.
Treatment involves using a salt-water or Chlorhexidine mouthwash to keep the area clean around the gum.
Pain relief can be given if required.
If the condition does not improve after carrying out this treatment a few times or if there is much swelling, prescribe a course of antibiotics.
The patient may be advised to visit a dental surgeon for the removal of the last molar because sometimes this is the only way of permanently curing the inflammation. Removal of the upper tooth may sometimes also help.
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