What is pericoronaritis?

When we talk about pericoronaritis, there may be many people who confuse the term with periodontitis or with other gum diseases, that is, with the soft tissues surrounding the tooth.

This condition is indeed related to the gums and it is an inflammation that can lead to infection precisely in that area of the mouth.

Below we explain in detail what it consists of, what are the causes that can make pericoronaritis appear, and what treatments are the most effective to eliminate it.


Why does pericoronaritis appear?

Pericoronaritis, as the term itself indicates, is an infection or inflammation of the gums surrounding a dental piece and it usually occurs in molars.

  • Peri: Around (in this case around the crown of the tooth)
  • Crown: Part of a dental piece exposed above the gum and covered by enamel.
  • Itis: Inflammation

This condition usually takes place when wisdom teeth erupt, so it generally occurs in people between 20 and 30 years old. There is also another type of pericoronaritis that can occur at younger ages, with the eruption of the first molars, around 6-10 years old.

This inflammation or infection of the gums occurs as a result of various issues that can arise when these dental pieces erupt, which are larger than the rest of the teeth.


Pericoronaritis due to retention or molar fracture

This type of pericoronaritis is the most common at the appearance of molars, regardless of the type (molars, premolars, or wisdom teeth), and is related to the fact that the tooth itself may be coming out in a position different from the ideal, which generally affects the amount of gum that is moved to make room for it.

It is a form of pericoronaritis that can occur, for example, when the molar erupts horizontally instead of vertically, exerting much more pressure than necessary on the gum and also on other teeth, which can cause crowding.


Pericoronaritis due to gum covering over the molar

It is a type of pericoronaritis that also occurs in erupting molars when the gum does not completely retract to allow the tooth to come out normally. By creating a kind of “pocket” with the tissue surrounding the molar, infection or inflammation can occur as a result of the accumulation of bacteria from food debris.


Pericoronaritis due to lack of oral hygiene

Not having good oral hygiene can cause that “pocket” we mentioned in the previous section to not be perfectly clean with each brushing or rinsing. This happens as a result of superficial cleaning since it is a hard-to-reach area.


Pericoronaritis due to bacterial accumulation

Pericoronaritis, or infection and inflammation of the gums surrounding the molars, can also simply occur due to accumulation of bacteria, something that also depends on conditions related to heat or humidity, in addition to lack of hygiene. All this is a perfect breeding ground for bacterial proliferation that can cause pericoronaritis.


What are the usual symptoms of pericoronaritis?

Like any oral condition that involves inflammation or periodontal infection, there are some common symptoms that are also common to other gum diseases. In reality, the symptoms of pericoronaritis are not excessively alarming or bothersome, but it is important to note that if not treated correctly, it can lead to more serious problems.

The first symptoms of pericoronaritis are:

  • Inflammation and redness of the gums
  • Difficult chewing
  • Gingival bleeding
  • Infection that can cause general discomfort, halitosis, suppuration, and even low-grade fever
  • Pain in the affected area and radiating pain in the neck, head, or even ear

The most severe symptoms that can occur in advanced pericoronaritis are:

  • Cavities
  • Inflammation of the lymph nodes leading to pharyngitis or tonsillitis
  • Development of abscesses
  • Progression of severity towards gingivitis or periodontitis


How to treat and cure pericoronaritis?

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above as a result of the eruption

of a molar, it is advisable to consult first with the specialist.

Determining the severity is the first step to carry out a correct treatment of pericoronaritis and avoid reaching more advanced states that can lead to gingivitis or periodontitis.

Professional cleaning is usually a second step indicated to begin treating inflamed gums due to molar eruption, and if there is an abscess, drainage should also be performed to eliminate the infection.

The patient is also responsible for the evolution and improvement of their pericoronaritis since it is their responsibility to adapt hygiene sufficiently to reduce bacterial proliferation and inflammation. The use of mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine and/or saline solutions are also common in the treatment of pericoronaritis, and in more severe cases, prescription of antibiotics or anti-inflammatories may be necessary. If the pain is moderate or severe, analgesics may also be prescribed to relieve discomfort in the area.

In cases where the gum covering poses a problem for the eruption of the tooth, a minor surgery called gingivectomy can be performed, which consists of removing that part of the soft tissue that interferes with the tooth’s path. If the eruption is too horizontal to cause cavities due to contact or malocclusions, it will be necessary to extract the tooth.

Do you think you have pericoronaritis? Do you want us to evaluate your case or that of a family member?

As specialists in the treatment of gum diseases, at our clinic, we have everything necessary to carry out the best diagnosis and appropriate treatment of this type of oral conditions. Do not hesitate to contact our clinic in A Coruña (at San Andrés, 90) and Dr. Liñares and his team will be in charge of recovering the health of your teeth and gums.

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