One of the big reasons why a lot of dentists recommend getting wisdom teeth out routinely is a condition known as pericoronitis. Wisdom teeth, especially in your bottom jaw, typically don’t have quite enough space to come in all the way. If they do come in all the way, they still have quite a bit of gum tissue around the back of them. Because of the excess gum tissue back there and the difficulty is keeping it clean, this gum tissue will sometimes become inflamed and/or infected. When the gum tissue becomes inflamed, it actually starts to grow and get bigger, eventually covering part of the tooth. When you bite down, you traumatize the gum tissue which only makes it more inflamed. To add insult to injury, food will get trapped under this excess gum tissue and the area will then get infected. Common symptoms of pericoronitis include pain in your wisdom tooth area, excess gum tissue around the tooth, swelling, a bad taste, and difficulty opening your mouth. The symptoms are pretty similar to what you develop with a bad tooth abscess and many people mistakenly think that is actually what is happening.
Treatment for pericoronitis consists of several things…
- If you have facial swelling or pus coming from the area your dentist will put you on an appropriate antibiotic. If you don’t have either of these things, you usually don’t need a systemic antibiotic.
- A prescription for a chlorhexidine antibacterial mouthrinse. Your dentist will usually have you swish with this 2-3 times a day. In cases where the gum tissue is severely overgrown, they’ll often give you a small monoject syringe to use to irrigate under the flap of gum tissue.
- Minor surgery to remove the excess gum tissue. This is known as an operculectomy.
- Definitive treatment for pericoronitis is to take out the tooth (usually the wisdom tooth) where it is occurring.