Pericoronitis (cont.)

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How is pericoronitis diagnosed?

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Pericoronitis is diagnosed based on symptoms and appearance during a clinical evaluation with a health-care professional such as a dentist or oral surgeon. A dental X-ray is used to assess the area and rule out other possible causes for pain, such as dental decay.

What is the treatment for pericoronitis?

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There are three methods for treatment of pericoronitis depending on the severity of the condition:

  1. Management of pain and resolving the infection
  2. Minor surgery to remove the overlapping gum tissue (operculectomy)
  3. Removal of the tooth

To manage the pain, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are used. If it is localized to the tooth and there has been no spread of the infection, the area is thoroughly cleaned out under local anesthesia by a dentist. If there is swelling or fever, oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or erythromycin will be prescribed.

When the tooth can be useful and there is a desire to keep the tooth, minor surgery can be performed to remove the operculum. This will allow better access to properly clean the area and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. In some unfortunate instances, the gum tissue may grow back and create the same problem.

Removal (extraction) of the tooth is the most common treatment method since wisdom teeth oftentimes are poorly positioned and do not erupt completely. This method eliminates any future occurrences of pericoronitis.

In rare instances, the symptoms become so severe that an individual needs to go the hospital emergency room to seek care due to the rapid spread of infection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2015

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