Many times, wisdom teeth do not erupt properly, but come into the mouth partially and remain covered by some gum tissue. Lower wisdom teeth have a larger chance of becoming infected, as the flap of gum tissue over them traps bacteria, plaque, and food debris. The gum tissue them becomes swollen and infected, and a condition termed "pericoronitis" occurs.

What Can Be Done By You?

Symptoms of pericoronitis often include the following:

  1. When the infection is already present there may be a very bad taste in the mouth
  2. Halitosis or bad breath
  3. Pain in and around the infected area
  4. Swollen gums and gum flap, along with the inability to properly close your mouth due to the swollen flap
  5. Difficulty and pain upon trying to open your mouth completely

Rinse with warm salt water, but do not place a warm moist towel or compress on your face. The warm salt water may help suck out some of the infection and debris from under the gum flap, but you should visit your dentist immediately.

What Can Be Done By The Dentist?

Pericoronitis is treatable, but several things should occur to eliminate the problem: You will most likely be given antibiotics and mild pain medication to help rid the area of infection and relieve your pain symptoms. You will be told to rinse your mouth with warm salt water three times daily, and will be given a syringe to be used to suck up some salt water and clean the area. Your dentist will also teach you how to keep the area clean. In order for the problem not to reoccur, the following must be performed:

  1. The flap of gum tissue over the wisdom tooth causing the trap must be removed,
  2. Removing the wisdom tooth, or
  3. Allowing the wisdom tooth to erupt fully into the mouth.