Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gums on wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the deepest and last to grow. If left untreated, pericoronitis can cause tooth decay to the spread of infection in the mouth.

Pericoronitis infects molars that grow abnormally, grow sideways, or are embedded. This disease is more common in the lower molars, especially wisdom teeth . Even so, in rare cases, pericoronitis can also occur in other teeth.

Causes of Pericoronitis

Initially, pericoronitis occurs due to an imperfect arrangement of teeth, for example, the distance between the back teeth is too tight or the size of the jaw is too small. This condition causes the wisdom teeth to not have enough space to grow. As a result, the teeth are stuck in the gums, or only partially come out by tilting or shifting.

The condition of the teeth as above can make food residue easily tucked between the teeth and difficult to clean. Leftover food that is allowed to stick to the teeth will form a pile of plaque and allow bacteria to enter the gum tissue. The bacteria then infect the gums and cause inflammation.

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing pericoronitis, including:

  • Age 20 and over
  • The growth of wisdom teeth that are not normal, embedded or tilted
  • Gum tissue that grows to cover the teeth
  • Injury to the gums from biting
  • Poor dental health
  • Weak immune system, for example due to a viral infection, stress, or fatigue
  • Smoking habit
  • Pregnancy

Pericoronitis Symptoms

Pericoronitis can occur suddenly and quickly (acute), or slowly and last a long time (chronic). Symptoms that arise can vary depending on each patient's condition.

In acute pericoronitis, symptoms can include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Sharp pain around the molars
  • Difficulty and pain when opening the mouth or chewing food
  • Pus discharge from the infected gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or neck
  • Fever

Meanwhile, in chronic pericoronitis, the symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Pain in the tooth for 1–2 days
  • Bad taste in mouth

When to see a doctor

Consult a dentist if you have molars that don't grow out or only partially come out, especially if you experience pain in the gums or other symptoms of pericoronitis.

Immediately check with your dentist if pericoronitis is accompanied by more serious symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes ( lymphadenitis )
  • Difficulty opening mouth

The above symptoms can indicate inflammation has spread to the throat and neck. This condition can cause swallowing and breathing problems, and can even be life-threatening.

Pericoronitis diagnosis

The doctor can suspect the patient has pericoronitis from the signs and symptoms he is experiencing. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination by looking directly at the condition of the patient's teeth.

Furthermore, to ensure there is inflammation around the molars, the doctor will perform an X-ray examination of the teeth .

Pericoronitis Treatment

Treatment methods that doctors can use to treat pericoronitis, depending on the severity, include:


Medications, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, will be given to relieve pain and inflammation. Meanwhile, in patients whose gums have swollen, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics , such as amoxicillin or clindamycin .

Administration of drugs will be accompanied by cleaning the teeth and gums, to remove food debris and plaque buildup in the mouth. The doctor may also prescribe a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine , to help keep the teeth and gums clean.

Tooth and gum surgery

If it is considered that the inflamed gums can cause more severe interference with oral health, the doctor will suggest surgery to repair the gum folds or remove teeth if needed.

Independent efforts to support treatment

In order to support treatment and prevent the symptoms of pericoronitis from getting worse, the doctor will advise the patient to do the following:

  • Maintain dental hygiene by brushing and cleaning between the teeth using dental floss ( dental flossing ) at least twice a day
  • Diligent gargling with mouthwash or saline solution
  • Do not smoke
  • Check your teeth to the dentist regularly

Pericoronitis Complications

Pericoronitis generally causes pain and swelling around the molars. Apart from that, this condition can also cause other complications, such as difficulty chewing, unable to open the mouth ( lockjaw ), and the spread of infection in the mouth.

Although rare, pericoronitis can also cause other, more serious and life-threatening complications, such as:

  • Ludwig's angina, which is an infection at the base of the jaw
  • Sepsis , which is an infection in the bloodstream

Pericoronitis Prevention

Pericoronitis can be prevented by regular dental care and examinations. Dentists can perform several methods of prevention, such as:

  • Cleaning teeth to keep teeth clean from food residue and dirt
  • Monitor the condition of the molars
  • Provide immediate treatment when it is known that the molars have growth abnormalities

Pericoronitis can also be prevented by maintaining dental hygiene independently at home, for example by:

  • Brush your teeth regularly with toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Clean between the teeth using dental floss
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash regularly
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