Man on a smartphone calling dentist for help with pericoronitis pain- Modesto, CAIf you have painful, swollen gums around your wisdom teeth and molars, you may have pericoronitis. 

Let our highly experienced team of qualified oral surgeons at Stanislaus Oral Surgery in Modesto, California, help. We use different methods to treat this condition depending on the severity, including oral surgery, and we always guarantee the best patient care.

Before you come to our practice, learn about wisdom tooth pericoronitis here to put your mind at ease.

What Is Pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding your wisdom teeth (i.e., your third and final set of molars). Typically, it’s found around a partially erupted tooth in the gum tissue in your lower jaw.

More often than not, a flap of gum tissue will slightly cover the wisdom tooth, which then becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and food debris build-up. If left untreated, the food particles and bacteria in the soft tissue can cause an infection.

What Causes Pericoronitis?

It often develops because of a partially erupted wisdom tooth. The surrounding gum tissue then grows over the crown, known as an operculum. Eventually, an infection can set in, leading to pericoronitis. 

Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone. However, some risk factors may make your mouth more susceptible to the condition than others. These are as follows:

  • Emotional stress
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Pregnancy
  • Excess gum tissue
  • Age (People in their 20s are more at risk of pericoronitis)
  • Upper respiratory tract infections

What Are The Symptoms of Pericoronitis?

Symptoms of pericoronitis can change depending on how long you’ve been suffering from this gum tissue condition. Typically, the signs are split into two categories — acute pericoronitis and chronic pericoronitis.

Acute Pericoronitis Symptoms

At this stage, you haven’t had pericoronitis for very long. It’s often referred to as a “rapid flair up.”

Acute symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the mouth, specifically around your molars and wisdom teeth
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Sensitive gums
  • Pus discharging from the infected gum areas
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trismus (the clinical term for lockjaw)
  • Swelling in the soft tissue around your wisdom teeth
  • Infection in and around the gum flap

Chronic Pericoronitis Signs

If the condition goes untreated for a long time, the infection can spread and become chronic. The symptoms for the longer-term condition include:

  • Halitosis (a.k.a. bad breath)
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Dull or mild ache in the gum flap around the infected wisdom tooth
  • Swelling and pain in the lymph nodes

How Do We Diagnose Pericoronitis?

While you now know the symptoms, it’s always essential to seek advice and a proper diagnosis from dental health care professionals like us at Stanislaus Oral Surgery in Modesto, California.

We’ll start by asking about your symptoms (trismus, pain levels, etc.) and conduct a dental health exam on your wisdom tooth. If there is swelling, infection, or gum flap, we’ll note this down. The examination helps us gather information about your pericoronitis condition and determine whether you need an x-ray.

If an x-ray is needed to give you an accurate diagnosis, we’ll discuss the procedure with you beforehand. We’re simply looking at the alignment of your wisdom teeth.

After all that, we’ll walk you through the types of pericoronitis treatment we offer. Depending on the severity of your case, it will affect the overall cost of treatment.

How Do We Treat Pericoronitis?

Based on the information gleaned from our diagnosis and your symptoms, we’ll offer you one or more of the following treatments:

Oral Health Improvement and Salt Water Treatment

If localized (i.e., it hasn’t spread throughout your mouth), our dentist may suggest rinsing with saltwater and mouthwash. We’ll flush out any food particles and bacteria; then, it’s down to you to keep the flap clean by practicing effective oral hygiene.

Mildly Invasive Operculum Surgery Treatment

If the inflammation and pain are chronic or your pericoronitis is reoccurring, we’ll suggest operculum surgery. Here, we use a laser to decrease the pain and swelling, combating many unpleasant symptoms.

Pain Medication and Antibiotic Treatment

When you’re experiencing swelling in your jaw, cheek, and tooth, the infection has spread. In this case, we’ll put you on antibiotics to cure the pericoronitis and get rid of the bacteria build-up.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Treatment

If none of the above treatment options work, it’s time for us to extract your wisdom tooth to promote oral health and cure pericoronitis. Sometimes, we’ll suggest removing both the lower and upper wisdom teeth to prevent further infection and other symptoms.


Pericoronitis can be uncomfortable and severely painful the longer you leave it. So, if you have sensitive gums, lockjaw, pus, appetite changes, swelling, or infection, don’t wait around. 

Instead, get your pericoronitis treated by our highly qualified team of dental experts at Stanislaus Oral Surgery in Modesto, California. 

Call or book an appointment online today!


Will Pericoronitis Come Back After Treatment?

It’s unlikely that pericoronitis will come back after extracting the wisdom tooth. However, if you opt for operculum removal only, there’s a slight chance it can reoccur.

How Can You Prevent Pericoronitis?

Regular dental checkups and practicing recommended oral hygiene routines will reduce your risk of pericoronitis.

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