A wisdom tooth infection, also known as pericoronitis, occurs when the wisdom teeth, also called third molars, become impacted or partially erupted and cause inflammation or infection in the surrounding gum tissue. Wisdom teeth typically start to emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood, and their positioning in the back of the mouth can make them prone to various dental issues.
Here are some key points about wisdom tooth infections:
- Symptoms: Wisdom tooth infections can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the gum tissue around the affected tooth. You may also experience a foul taste in your mouth, difficulty opening your mouth fully, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
- Causes: Wisdom tooth infections often occur when the partially erupted tooth creates a space where bacteria can accumulate. This can lead to an infection of the surrounding gum tissue. Impaction, where the tooth doesn’t fully emerge from the gumline, can make this problem more likely.
- Treatment Options:
- Antibiotics: Your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and reduce inflammation.
- Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage pain and discomfort.
- Warm Salt Water Rinses: Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe the affected area and reduce inflammation.
- Tooth Extraction: In cases of severe or recurrent infections, your dentist may recommend extracting the affected wisdom tooth. Extraction is often a permanent solution to the problem.
- Prevention: The best way to prevent wisdom tooth infections is through regular dental check-ups and monitoring the development of your wisdom teeth. If your dentist believes that your wisdom teeth are likely to cause issues, they may recommend extraction even before symptoms occur.
- Complications: If left untreated, wisdom tooth infections can lead to more serious complications, such as the spread of infection to other parts of the body, the development of an abscess, or damage to neighboring teeth.
It’s important to seek prompt dental care if you suspect a wisdom tooth infection or experience any of the associated symptoms. Your dentist or oral surgeon can evaluate the situation and recommend the most appropriate course of action to alleviate your symptoms and prevent further complications.