Donna S. Bautista, DDS
Dr. Donna S. Bautista, DDS, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor of arts in biochemistry and cell biology. During her time at UC San Diego, she was involved in basic research including studying processes related to DNA transcription in the field of molecular biology. Upon graduation, she went on to attend dental school at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to her formal dental training, she provided dental care for underserved communities in the Bay Area through clinics and health fairs. She also worked toward mentoring high school students interested in the field of dentistry.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Slideshow: Top Problems in Your Mouth
- Teeth Whiteners That Work
- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are pericoronitis symptoms and signs?
Signs and symptoms of pericoronitis can range from mild to severe and include
What specialists treat pericoronitis?
Any licensed dentist is able to treat pericoronitis. In situations where surgery is required or if it is a severe and complicated case, dental specialists such an oral surgeon or a periodontist (gum surgeon) can provide treatment. In very rare instances, should the infection become more widespread, emergency services with physician care might be needed.
How do health care professionals diagnose pericoronitis?
Diagnosis of pericoronitis is based on symptoms and appearance during a clinical evaluation with a health care professional such as a dentist or oral surgeon. A dental X-ray is used to assess the area and rule out other possible causes for pain, such as dental decay. Once all the information from the patient and facts are gathered, the diagnosis of pericoronitis can be made.
What is the treatment for pericoronitis?
There are three methods for treatment of pericoronitis depending on the severity of the condition:
- Management of pain and resolving the pericoronal inflammation and/or infection
- Minor oral surgery to remove the overlapping gingival tissue (operculectomy)
- Removal of the wisdom tooth
To manage the pain of acute pericoronitis, use over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). If it is localized to the tooth and there has been no spread of the infection, a dentist thoroughly cleans out the area under local anesthesia. A dentist may prescribe an oral rinse containing chlorhexidine to keep the area clean. Otherwise, warm saltwater or diluted hydrogen peroxide can be used as an oral rinse. If there is swelling or fever, a dentist may prescribe oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or erythromycin.
When the molar can be useful for chewing and there is a desire to keep the tooth, minor oral surgery can be performed to remove the operculum. This will allow better access to properly clean the area and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and food debris. In some unfortunate instances, the gum tissue may grow back and create the same problem.
Removal (extraction) of the tooth is the most common treatment method since wisdom teeth oftentimes are poorly positioned and do not erupt completely. This method eliminates any future occurrences of a wisdom tooth infection.
In rare instances, the symptoms become so severe that an individual needs to go the hospital emergency room to seek care due to the rapid spread of a pericoronal abscess. This is especially the case if there is swelling of the lymph nodes.
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