There are various problems associated with dental and oral health. One of the most frequent one is pericoronitis. This is an inflammation of the tissue surrounding a partially erupted wisdom tooth or third molar. As wisdom teeth commonly erupt during late adolescence, pericoronitis becomes a common problem that affect young adults, instead of senior citizens. People in their late teens or early twenties, therefore, are more susceptible to this problem.
Main causes of pericoronitis
The main cause of pericoronitis is abnormal growth of the third molar or what-so-called as wisdom teeth. This gum-related problem occurs when growing wisdom teeth only partially erupt and break through the gum. As this tooth only partially erupts, it causes an opening through which bacteria can enter and infest the region around the tooth, causing infection. This abnormal position of wisdom teeth also triggers the formation of flap around the impacted tooth, in which potential bacteria may hide and trigger gum infection.
Another main cause of pericoronitis is leftover food and plaque—a bacterial film that remains on teeth after eating. If this leftover remains inside the flapped gum, it is possible that it will catch bacteria that will infest the region, causing bacterial infection that leads to inflammation. If this infection develops into more severe stages, it is possible that the gum is not the only affected region. Instead, the jaw and cheek may also swell, causing more severe pain and infection. Pericoronitis is common to occur in lower wisdom teeth compared to the upper ones.
How wisdom teeth cause pericoronitis
The eruption of wisdom teeth, for many people, has triggered various dental and gum problems. Pericoronitis is one of the most common ones. As its name suggests, pericoronitis refers to an inflammation around the crown of the teeth, especially the third molar. This is a very painful gum problem that generally lead to some other various health complications, such as gum swelling, gum bleeding, tooth decay, fever, and eating disorder.
As a matter of fact, it is not the wisdom teeth itself that causes pericoronitis. This gum problem is closely related to the infestation of bacteria around the mouth lining. When a wisdom tooth erupts, usually the gum cannot accommodate its proper placement, as the space might not be enough. As a result, this third molar cannot fully erupt and thus, may sit on the gum with awkward position. This condition is clinically referred as an impaction. When someone has an impacted third molar, there will be an opening on the gum, causing bacteria and food leftover to get into the gum and cause infection around the crown of the tooth. The infesting bacteria are overgrowing around the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth, causing inflammation and infection of these tissues. The fact that the wisdom tooth is being impacted raises the risk of this infection, in that it is very difficult to brush or clean up an impacted wisdom tooth due to its unusual position on the gum. As a result, the white, sticky plaque that is often left around this tooth cannot be thoroughly cleaned, making it is more possible for the bacteria to grow excessively, leading to pericoronitis.
Can other teeth cause pericoronitis?
Wisdom teeth are in fact, not that special. Despite their tendency to cause pericoronitis, erupting wisdom teeth are not the only trigger of this inflammation around the tooth crown. As a matter of fact, all teeth can possibly cause pericoronitis if they are impacted. An impacted tooth is unable to make it fully to its right position in the mouth. As a result, the crown of this tooth, which should be upward becomes sideward. Consequently, this impacted tooth is really hard to reach and thus, cannot be cleaned thoroughly using a toothbrush.
Another reason why compared to the other molars, wisdom teeth have an increased risk of causing pericoronitis is because of its location in the mouth. These third molars are located at the very back of the mouth, wherein plaque and food leftover can hardly be seen. In many cases, people who develop pericoronitis have a flipped gum tissue around this impacted tooth, making it is hard even for mouthwash to clean the area thoroughly.