I used to think growing new sets of teeth was limited to children and adults don't grow a new tooth. I remember while growing up when my gum starts paining me and I find it difficult to eat, I would run to my mother(my doctor that didn't go to medical school) and she will say I am about to grow a new tooth. after a while let's say 10 days a new tooth comes out,
I am 26 years old and a similar thing happened approximately 2 weeks ago. I have been in so much pain then I went to see a dentist and I was diagnosed with pericoronitis. They said the solution to the pain was either getting a tooth extraction or getting the gum scarped(gingivectomy).
What is pericoronitis?
WebMD defines pericoronitis as inflammation or swelling of your gum tissue. This definition does not cover what I want to explain. Healthline defines pericoronitis as inflammation of the tissue surrounding the third molar. The third molar is otherwise known as the wisdom tooth. Pericoronitis actually happens when the wisdom tooth does not have enough room to erupt through the gum. This is why scraping the gum off is one option for treatment. This causes pain because of injury to the gum and then subsequent infection. It is surprising that a small thing like this can lead to a serious condition like osteomyelitis.
What could be the cause and what people are at risk?
The cause of pericoronitis is not known in most cases. However, there are some things that increase the risk of having this condition.
In most cases, the causes are not known. The partially erupted tooth is usually covered by soft tissue. The soft tissue is called an operculum. Poor oral hygiene is a cause of pericoronitis due to infection from things that get impacted beneath the partially erupted tooth. Another cause is stress. Some sources associate pregnancy with pericoronitis. This could be due to the fact that pregnancy is a stress-related event. There might be a play of hormones in the cause of pericoronitis. My concern is with pregnancy cortisol level increases. Cortisol is a stress hormone and helps reduce inflammation.
Other people at risk include;
- People between the ages of 20-29
- People who have excess gum tissue
_ People who have upper respiratory tract ionfection
How can pericoronitis be diagnosed?
My case started with a serious pain in my molar region which Trust me you dont want to experience this pain, I couldnt chew with that part of my mouth. I started swallowing my food so as to reduce the trauma to the tooth and the pain also. Other symptoms include halithosis which is synonymous to mouth odour. Moputh occurs as a result of decay of the food particles beneath the operculum. When a person has perocoronitis, it can be identified by just looking at it. The gum is red and inflammed. Sometimes if it is infected pus might be oozing out of it. Other symptoms iclude fever, loss of apetite and lymph node swelling in the jaw. The mouth odour can be embarrasing and i feel the pain when brushing might contribut to the mouth odour too.
What treatment options are available?
Like I said earlier, I was told to either remove the tooth or remove the flap. I was bothered because I didnt like the idea of surgery. It didn't sink well with me so I asked for conservative methods and I was offered some.
Basically, the treatment option for pericoronitis can be divided into conservative and operative.
Conservative treatment/ Home remedies
It should be noted that conservative methods are not definitive treatments and anyone with pericoronitis should see a dentist for further evaluation.
The home remedies include ;
- Warm saline mouth rinse: This is done by mixing warm water with salt. Salt has been known to have antibacterial action and hence its use in the conservative management. The heat from the water also helps in reducing inflammation and killing micro organism.When using warm saline, it should be directed towards the wisdom tooth so it can have its effect. This also helps to remove the dislodged particles too. This should be done with at least 30 centiliters of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. This routine should be done 6 times a day for a duration of 5 days.
- Pain relief medication: Medications like Ibruprofen, diclofenac or even paracetamol can help with the pain and even slow the injurious process.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics has a role in treating the infection if there is or preventing infection from getting to the region. Antibiotics like ampiclox or erythromycin will do.
When should you stop conservative method?
Once pain is not alleviating after these remedies or it becomes seriously infected with evidence of pus, A doctor should be seen immediately.
What complications could ensue from this condition
When my symptoms started, I was just enduring the pain until I read about the complications and then made a resolute to start taking care of my tooth.
its surprising that a small condition like this can cause some serious complications like trismus, Ludwig's angina or even sepsis.
Have you ever seen a person with tetanus? It is also called lockjaw. It is a condition in which a person finds it difficult to open the mouth or bite down hard.
Ludwig's angina is a condition in which there is infection of the area beneath the jaw and mouth. This condition can lead to serious infection in the head and neck region.
This infection can spread further and cause sepsis which is a life threatening condition in which there is an overwhelming infection in the whole body. Some sort of generalized infection that can lead to shock and then death.
How can these condition and its complication be prevented?
First step is good dental hygiene. I had to start brushing two times a day, doing warm saline before and after meal. I also started using floss. At first it is not easy to build these habits but with time it comes.
Also, good dental seeking behaviour will go a long way in preventing this condition as well as other conditions. Whenever you have a dental problem, a dentist should be seen as serious complications are common occurences because of the proximity to the head and neck region. Good dental seeking behaviour also includes regular dental check ups which most of the people I know are guilty of even doctors.
Pericoronitis does not have long term effect if there are no complications. Good oral hygiene and pain alleviation will help deter the progression of the condition. the definitive treatment is extraction of the wisdom tooth when it becomes a problem.
I hope you have learnt something. Thank you for reading.