Pericoronitis

  • Medical Author:
    Donna S. Bautista, DDS

    Dr. Donna S. Bautista, DDS, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor of arts in biochemistry and cell biology. During her time at UC San Diego, she was involved in basic research including studying processes related to DNA transcription in the field of molecular biology. Upon graduation, she went on to attend dental school at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to her formal dental training, she provided dental care for underserved communities in the Bay Area through clinics and health fairs. She also worked toward mentoring high school students interested in the field of dentistry.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Cosmetic Dentistry: Before and After Slideshow Pictures

Are home remedies effective for pericoronitis?

Sometimes, mild symptoms of pericoronitis can be treated at home without antibiotics. Thorough and gentle brushing of the area with a small-headed toothbrush may help to break up the plaque or food that is trapped. Oral water irrigators can be effective in clearing out the debris trapped under the operculum as well. Rinsing with warm saltwater can help to soothe the area. Additionally, diluted hydrogen peroxide can be used as a rinse or irrigating solution to help reduce the bacteria in the area.

For severe pericoronitis where swelling and fever are present, home treatments are not advised and proper care should be sought with the appropriate health-care professional.

What is the prognosis for pericoronitis?

The prognosis for pericoronitis is usually very good. With timely care and treatment, pericoronitis can properly be managed or eliminated. The condition should resolve in approximately one week. If the initial cause of the infection is not treated, the condition will likely return.

Rarely, the infection can spread from the mouth into the head and neck and cause a serious complication called "Ludwig's angina." This can be a life-threatening condition where the airway could be blocked. Also, spread of the infection to the bloodstream (sepsis) can be life-threatening.

Is it possible to prevent pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis may be prevented with regular dental visits and preemptive care. The dentist can aid in keeping these potential problem areas clean and determine the need for removal of the operculum. Alternatively, the dentist can also monitor the eruption of the third molars and determine the need for early extraction of these teeth. Removal of the wisdom teeth prior to eruption can prevent pericoronitis.

REFERENCE:

Hazza'a A. M., et al. "Angulation of mandibular third molars as a predictive factor for pericoronitis." The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice 10.3 (2009): 51-58.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2015

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