Pericoronitis - causes, symptoms and treatment

March 16, 2014

Pericoronitis - causes, symptoms and treatment
Pericoronitis - gum inflammation
Pericoronitis around a wisdom tooth
Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding a tooth. The gingiva in this area is swollen, red and painful.
Pericoronitis is a dental condition in which the soft tissues around the erupting crown are swollen, red and inflamed.

Pericoronitis is a dental term used to describe an oral health condition that involves the inflammation of the tissues that surround the crown of a partially erupted tooth. These tissues include the operculum, the gingiva (tooth gums) and the dental follicle that usually surround the wisdom teeth. This condition is also known as operculitis when the inflammation is on the operculum alone. Pericoronitis is often associated with the emergence of partially erupted wisdom teeth (third molars) that usually occur between the ages of 15 to 25. 

This condition can be classified into chronic and acute pericoronitis. Chronic conditions have mild symptoms with numerous appearances while the acute condition is characterized with sudden painful experience. 


Causes of Pericoronitis

  1. Accumulated food particles underneath the operculum (a soft tissue that surrounds a partially erupted tooth) that harbors microorganisms. The bacterial activities cause inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the tooth. 
  2. Inflammation can also be as a result of habitual biting of the operculum with the opposing tooth. Dental impaction often results to the elongation of the tooth directly opposite the partially erupted wisdom tooth. This elongated tooth can bite the protruded operculum and cause an inflammation. 



  1. Severe pain in the case of acute pericoronitis. This is usually accompanied with swelling, accumulation of pus and fever that can be life threatening if not taken care of at the right moment. 
  2. Decay of the adjacent teeth as a result of the activities of the microorganisms harbored by the operculum. The partially erupted tooth can also decay as a result of these activities. 
  3. Loss of appetite and foul breath as a result of the accumulated pus. Gum diseases like gingivitis are also common with this oral health condition. 
  4. Acute pericoronitis at times spreads to other parts of the body such as the face and neck. This can cause swelling to the mandibular and cervical lymph nodes. You are advised to seek emergency treatment when such a case occurs. 


Prevention, care and treatment

  1. You can prevent this oral health condition by getting rid of the impacted wisdom teeth before they erupt. This will prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from thriving under the operculum.
  2. Pain relievers and special radiographs (OPG and bite wings)are used in diagnosing and therefore treating the periodontal pain. The accumulated food particles and debris should be removed from the pericoronal tissues below the operculum. The area below is irrigated to remove the inflammatory exudates and food debris. 
  3. A pre-existing condition can be maintained by using warm saline, regular mouth wash or hot salt water. You should improve on your oral hygiene in order to avoid further acquisition and development of bacterial activities on the pericoronal tissues.  
  4. Surgical operations such as preventive operculectomy can be used in to treat this condition. This usually involves the removal of the inflamed operculum using a scalper, electrosurgery or a laser.


Pericoronitis should be dealt with as soon as it occurs. You should always check with your dentist to avoid the acute conditions and treat the chronic inflammation. You should be aware that the acute pericoronitis could be life threatening and its complications would require more elaborate medical procedures.


Be the first to comment on this article

Please register if you want to comment

Partners and Sponsors

© 2021 DentaGama All rights reserved