Pericoronitis is the name for a painful inflammation of the gum in the vicinity of an erupting wisdom tooth, another name for a third molar.
The condition generally occurs in people between the ages of 17 and 24, the time of life when wisdom teeth are erupting. It happens when a wisdom tooth is tilted, or partially impacted, and cannot erupt through the gum in normal fashion. When the tooth cannot come through completely, it leaves a gap between the gum and the tooth in which food particles and bacteria can gather and cause this painful inflammation and infection. Pericoronitis infections can be very serious. They can spread beneath the tongue and block the airway which is life-threatening.
The solution usually is extraction of the tooth. Extraction will prevent the remove the infection and will prevent the pressure from the twisted tooth damaging adjacent teeth. Depending upon how severe the infection has become, the extraction may be done in the oral surgeon’s office or in a hospital.
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