Pericoronitis – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Last Modified: November 7, 2023


Pericoronitis is a painful condition that affects many people, typically in their late teens to early twenties. It occurs when the wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, start to erupt and become partially or fully impacted, leading to an infection around the gum tissue covering the tooth. In this blog, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and effective treatments for pericoronitis.

Symptoms of Pericoronitis

  • Pain and Discomfort: One of the most common symptoms of pericoronitis is pain and discomfort in the back of the mouth, often localized around the impacted wisdom tooth. This pain can range from mild to severe and may be continuous or intermittent.
  • Swelling and Inflammation: Swelling and redness around the affected area are typical signs of pericoronitis. The inflammation may extend to the cheek and throat, making it difficult to open your mouth fully.
  • Bad Breath and Unpleasant Taste: An unpleasant taste and bad breath are often associated with pericoronitis. The infection can cause an accumulation of pus, leading to a foul odor and taste.
  • Difficulty Chewing and Swallowing: Due to the pain and swelling, chewing and swallowing may become challenging, making eating uncomfortable.

Causes of Pericoronitis

  • Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Pericoronitis is primarily caused by the eruption of wisdom teeth, which often don’t have enough space to emerge properly. These partially erupted teeth create a flap of gum tissue that can trap food particles and bacteria, leading to infection.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate oral hygiene practices, such as improper brushing and flossing, can contribute to the buildup of food particles and bacteria around the wisdom teeth, increasing the risk of pericoronitis.
  • Trauma: Trauma or injury to the area around the wisdom teeth can also increase the likelihood of infection. This can result from accidental biting, sharp food particles, or aggressive dental procedures.

Treatment of Pericoronitis

  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. Your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe stronger pain medication if necessary during oral surgery.
  • Warm Saltwater Rinse: Gargling with warm salt water can provide relief by reducing inflammation and cleansing the affected area.
  • Antibiotics: If the infection is severe, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to combat the bacteria causing pericoronitis.
  • Irrigation: A dentist may clean the affected area by using a syringe to remove debris and infected material from the gum flap.
  • Wisdom Tooth Removal: In many cases, the most effective treatment is to remove the problematic wisdom tooth. This prevents future episodes of pericoronitis and reduces the risk of complications.

Prevention of Pericoronitis

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Regularly brush and floss your teeth, including the area around your wisdom teeth, to prevent the buildup of debris and bacteria.
  • Dental Checkups: Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and X-rays to monitor the development and position of your wisdom teeth.
  • Early Intervention: If your dentist identifies issues with your wisdom teeth, consider doing the wisdom teeth removal process  to protect against pericoronitis or other complications.


Pericoronitis can be a painful and uncomfortable condition, but with proper care and timely intervention, you can manage and prevent it. If you experience symptoms of pericoronitis, consult emergency dentistry or your dentist and oral surgeon for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment options.

Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene is key to preventing this condition in the first place.

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