Pericoronitis – Everything You Need To Know

Man on a smartphone calling dentist for help with pericoronitis pain- Vallejo, CAIf you’ve been experiencing pain in the back corners of your mouth, you could be suffering from pericoronitis. 

To be safe, contact your dentist as soon as possible and schedule a check-up to rule out any infections. You can contact the expert oral surgeons at Rotary Way Oral Surgery in Vallejo, CA if you have any concerns about wisdom teeth extractions or compilations.

Not sure what pericoronitis is? We’ll give you a rundown of the symptoms, causes, and how to treat it.

Pericoronitis is a form of periodontal disease caused by an inflamed partially erupted wisdom tooth. It is most common in lower wisdom teeth covered by a flap of gum tissue. It can cause a severe infection along with several other symptoms and will require direct intervention by a trained dentist.

So, let’s explore what causes pericoronitis, how to tell if you have it, and what your dentist can do to help end this clinical dilemma.

What Is Pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis is the name for inflammation and swelling that arises around erupting mandibular third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth. 

It’s most likely to happen to young adults in their early 20’s as their wisdom teeth begin to grow in. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth don’t always grow correctly.

In some cases, wisdom teeth will grow crooked or only partially break through the surface of the gums. This causes the tooth to become impacted. Other times, a gum flap will cover a section of the wisdom tooth, causing further inflammation.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pericoronitis?

If you have pericoronitis, your symptoms will vary depending on the severity of your case and whether you are suffering from acute pericoronitis or chronic pericoronitis.

Acute Symptoms Of Pericoronitis

  • Severe pain that radiates throughout the back corner of your mouth
  • Swollen gum tissue
  • Gum tissue overlaps
  • Halitosis
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • A dull headache that persists for days

More Severe Symptoms Of Pericoronitis

  • Pus
  • Lockjaw
  • Jaw spasms
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sepsis

Are There Any Risk Factors Of Pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis is most common in the third and final set molars that become partially impacted. Over time, poor oral hygiene leads to bacteria growth.  

This often results in wisdom tooth infections, dental decay, swollen tissue, and pain.

Populations at the highest risk of developing pericoronitis include:

  • Adults between the age of 20-29
  • Adults with wisdom teeth that have not fully erupted
  • Adults with poor dental hygiene
  • Pregnant women

Fortunately, medically reviewed research has been unable to find any links between overall health and pericoronitis.

Additionally, you are not at a greater risk of developing pericoronitis if you suffer from a weakened immune system.

Does Pericoronitis Cause Any Complications?

The most common complication related to pericoronitis is the localized swelling and pain around the wisdom teeth. In severe cases, it can hinder your ability to chew and swallow food. 

It can even cause lock-jaw if left for too long. If untreated, the infection can also spread to other parts of your mouth.

In the worst of cases, the infection can spread into the rest of your head, including the neck.  This may cause a life-threatening condition called Ludwig’s angina. At the very worst, the spreading infection can even enter your bloodstream, causing sepsis.

How is Pericoronitis Treated?

Your dentist will perform a clinical evaluation of your mouth to look for impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth. They will then take an x-ray to determine the severity of your case. From there, your dentist will account for your more general symptoms and begin treating them one at a time. 

Treatment progresses as follows:

  • Reducing or eliminating the amount of swelling and pain around the wisdom tooth
  • Uncovering the affected tooth by removing the soft tissue
  • Oral surgery to extract the affected tooth

In some situations, an extraction may not be necessary. However, be prepared to have minor oral surgery if you are suffering from chronic symptoms of pericoronitis.

How To Manage The Pain

If your dentist predicts that your wisdom tooth will eventually grow properly, you’ll receive pain relievers to help control the pain. Typically, your dentist will recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which you can purchase over-the-counter.

Cleaning Your Teeth

Your dentist will clean your gums to help rid your mouth of any bacteria causing the infection. You will also receive an oral rinse to eliminate food debris after treatment and swish with warm salt water to maximize oral hygiene.


You may receive local anesthesia to help minimize the pain throughout the cleaning process. Furthermore, your dentist will likely prescribe oral antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin to prevent the infection from growing.

Removing The Partially Erupted Tooth

In severe cases, you may also be referred to an oral surgeon to have the tooth extracted or the overlapping gum flap removed to expose the tooth. The type of extraction needed will affect the cost of the procedure.


If you are worried that you have an impacted wisdom tooth or a case of pericoronitis, schedule an appointment with the expert oral surgeons at Rotary Way Oral Surgery in Vallejo, CA immediately so they can provide medical advice.

You must treat the infection before it spreads or causes additional damage to the rest of your teeth. Call or book online today!

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