There’s nothing fun about growing your wisdom teeth out. Maybe for the select few who never had issues with them. But for the rest of us, getting our wisdom teeth can feel akin to torture—an endless, throbbing pain growing at the back of your molars as you wait for them to come up. Ideally, the pain should stop once they come out. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. For the most part, you get impacted wisdom teeth that can get infected. When this happens, you usually get a condition called pericoronitis, otherwise known as the “wisdom tooth infection.”
As you could tell, this condition exclusively affects your wisdom teeth. When your wisdom teeth are impacted, they don’t erupt all the way through. So what happens? Well, it leaves an opening for food to collect in the area and for bacteria to come in. And when this occurs, the whole area gets infected, leading to pericoronitis.
Is there a way to prevent this, then? And if so, what can you do to treat pericoronitis once it occurs?
You’re more likely to get pericoronitis if you have the following
One of the more apparent risks of pericoronitis is being old enough to grow them out. It’s no surprise, then, that most patients who get this condition treated are either in their late teens to mid-20s. But this isn’t the only risk factor.
When you have excess gum tissue that covers up your wisdom tooth, food particles are more likely to get stuck in the area. This brings up your chances of infection. You usually get this gum overgrowth when they become inflamed, which are often a result of poor oral hygiene or specific medications. If the swelling is medicine-induced, the cause is either of the following:
- Anti-seizure medication
- Immune system suppressants
- Calcium channel blockers
Poor oral hygiene makes your gums more vulnerable to swelling. The excess bacteria causes other gum problems, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
How do I treat pericoronitis?
Before getting into treatment, how do you know if you have pericoronitis in the first place? Well, the symptoms depend on how severe your case is, but for the most part, you might get the following symptoms:
- Swelling around the wisdom tooth area
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain that cascades to your ear, throat, bottom mouth, and the rest of the oral cavity
- Problems opening the mouth
Once you get to your dentist, chances are they’ll give you an X-ray to see where the wisdom tooth is located. From there, they might determine the best mode of treatment.
- For milder cases, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics and painkillers to control the swelling.
- For more extreme cases, you might need surgery to remove the excess gum tissue. From there, your oral surgeon could clean the area to remove the food build-up and any bacteria that collected in the area.
- Finally, wisdom tooth extraction might be the best way to take care of your current condition and prevent future cases of pericoronitis. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause other complications in the long run, so the earlier you take them out, the better.