Disease: Pericoronitis

    What is pericoronitis?

    Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the crown portion of a tooth. Pericoronitis usually affects the lower third molar (wisdom) tooth where gum tissue overlaps the chewing surface of the tooth. Pericoronitis can be either chronic or acute. Chronic pericoronitis is a mild persistent inflammation of the area. Acute pericoronitis is when the symptoms intensify to fever, swelling, and pain, which indicate a spreading infection.

    Pericoronitis is differentiated from gum disease (or periodontitis) in that it occurs specifically around a partially erupting tooth. The cause of this condition is similar to the formation of a gum abscess in periodontitis by the entrapment of debris under the gum tissue.

    What causes pericoronitis?

    The primary cause for pericoronitis is accumulation of bacteria. Usually, the tooth is only partially exposed (erupted) and forms excess gum tissue that overlaps the tooth. Bacteria and food debris gets trapped in the space between the tooth and the overlapping gum. This overlapping gum is called an "operculum." Active infection is associated with an abscess that contains pus, which has the ability to spread if left unattended.

    What are risk factors for pericoronitis?

    Most commonly, pericoronitis affects young adults in their mid-20s who are experiencing poorly erupting wisdom teeth. Risk factors for pericoronitis include the presence of excess gum tissue (operculum) overlying the wisdom tooth and difficult access to the wisdom teeth for cleaning.

    What are pericoronitis symptoms and signs?

    Signs and symptoms of pericoronitis can range from mild to severe and include pain, swelling of the gums, tenderness, redness of gum tissue, bad breath, bad taste from pus, difficulty opening the jaw, difficulty swallowing, swollen lymph nodes, fever, loss of appetite, and feeling unwell.

    How is pericoronitis diagnosed?

    Pericoronitis is diagnosed based on symptoms and appearance during a clinical evaluation with a health-care professional such as a dentist or oral surgeon. A dental X-ray is used to assess the area and rule out other possible causes for pain, such as dental decay.

    What is the treatment for pericoronitis?

    There are three methods for treatment of pericoronitis depending on the severity of the condition:

    1. Management of pain and resolving the infection
    2. Minor surgery to remove the overlapping gum tissue (operculectomy)
    3. Removal of the tooth

    To manage the pain, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are used. If it is localized to the tooth and there has been no spread of the infection, the area is thoroughly cleaned out under local anesthesia by a dentist. If there is swelling or fever, oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or erythromycin will be prescribed.

    When the tooth can be useful and there is a desire to keep the tooth, minor surgery can be performed to remove the operculum. This will allow better access to properly clean the area and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. In some unfortunate instances, the gum tissue may grow back and create the same problem.

    Removal (extraction) of the tooth is the most common treatment method since wisdom teeth oftentimes are poorly positioned and do not erupt completely. This method eliminates any future occurrences of pericoronitis.

    In rare instances, the symptoms become so severe that an individual needs to go the hospital emergency room to seek care due to the rapid spread of infection.

    How is pericoronitis diagnosed?

    Pericoronitis is diagnosed based on symptoms and appearance during a clinical evaluation with a health-care professional such as a dentist or oral surgeon. A dental X-ray is used to assess the area and rule out other possible causes for pain, such as dental decay.

    What is the treatment for pericoronitis?

    There are three methods for treatment of pericoronitis depending on the severity of the condition:

    1. Management of pain and resolving the infection
    2. Minor surgery to remove the overlapping gum tissue (operculectomy)
    3. Removal of the tooth

    To manage the pain, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are used. If it is localized to the tooth and there has been no spread of the infection, the area is thoroughly cleaned out under local anesthesia by a dentist. If there is swelling or fever, oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or erythromycin will be prescribed.

    When the tooth can be useful and there is a desire to keep the tooth, minor surgery can be performed to remove the operculum. This will allow better access to properly clean the area and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. In some unfortunate instances, the gum tissue may grow back and create the same problem.

    Removal (extraction) of the tooth is the most common treatment method since wisdom teeth oftentimes are poorly positioned and do not erupt completely. This method eliminates any future occurrences of pericoronitis.

    In rare instances, the symptoms become so severe that an individual needs to go the hospital emergency room to seek care due to the rapid spread of infection.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    There are three methods for treatment of pericoronitis depending on the severity of the condition:

    1. Management of pain and resolving the infection
    2. Minor surgery to remove the overlapping gum tissue (operculectomy)
    3. Removal of the tooth

    To manage the pain, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are used. If it is localized to the tooth and there has been no spread of the infection, the area is thoroughly cleaned out under local anesthesia by a dentist. If there is swelling or fever, oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or erythromycin will be prescribed.

    When the tooth can be useful and there is a desire to keep the tooth, minor surgery can be performed to remove the operculum. This will allow better access to properly clean the area and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. In some unfortunate instances, the gum tissue may grow back and create the same problem.

    Removal (extraction) of the tooth is the most common treatment method since wisdom teeth oftentimes are poorly positioned and do not erupt completely. This method eliminates any future occurrences of pericoronitis.

    In rare instances, the symptoms become so severe that an individual needs to go the hospital emergency room to seek care due to the rapid spread of infection.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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