Pericoronitis: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 9/18/2017

Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the gum issue that surrounds the crown portion of a tooth that is partially not erupted. It is usually seen around the lower third molar (wisdom tooth) where gum tissue overlaps the chewing surface of the tooth. In chronic pericoronitis, there is a persistent and long-standing inflammation of the gum tissue. In acute pericoronitis, an infection is present that leads to swelling, pain, and possibly fever. Pericoronitis is not the same as gum inflammation (or periodontitis) in that it occurs specifically around a partially erupted tooth that has not completely emerged.

Causes of pericoronitis

The primary cause for pericoronitis is trapping of bacteria and food debris in the space between the tooth and the overlapping gum. This overlapping gum is called an operculum.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/18/2017

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