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Pericoronitis, a dental infection common around wisdom teeth needing extraction.

Pericoronitis in an 11 year-old female patient. Although pericoronitis most commonly occurs around lower third molars, this case occurred on a lower second molar. The arrow points to the swollen flap of gum tissue over the back of the incompletely erupted tooth. The flap is called an operculum, which in this case had become extremely tender.

Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the crown of an incompletely erupted tooth, characterized by pain and swelling. Generally the inflammation is caused by entrapment of food debris, irritation, or trauma to the soft tissue around the crown of the tooth—which then becomes infected. Usually, the tooth is the furthest tooth back in the jaw, and lower teeth are affected more commonly than uppers. The most commonly affected teeth in adults are the lower wisdom teeth (third molars), due mainly to their high incidence of impaction and the patient’s inability to clean around them effectively.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on March 6, 2018.

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