Wisdom teeth do not always erupt through the gums, and they come through much later than other adult teeth if they ever do emerge. In some cases, a wisdom tooth will not have enough room to fully erupt. Gum flaps may develop around the affected wisdom tooth, and food can become trapped beneath those flaps to create an infection.
This is an infection of the soft tissue surrounding a wisdom tooth rather than the tooth itself, and it's known as pericoronitis. It's not always a condition that requires treatment, but problems can develop if any necessary treatment is delayed. With that in mind, here are just four reasons you should see your dentist if you suspect you have pericoronitis.
1. Infections Can Spread
An infection from pericoronitis will not always spread, but the results can be severe when it does. As the infection develops, an abscess may grow. If it ruptures, an infection can spread from the affected area to cause swelling in the neck and head. In some rare cases, an infection can even spread into your bloodstream to cause sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
2. Pain Can Grow More Severe
Patients suffering from pericoronitis often experience moderate to severe pain towards the back of the mouth, but this doesn't always happen. Even if pain does develop, it can be easy enough to put up with at first. Unfortunately, untreated pericoronitis may grow more painful over time. This means the discomfort you can put up with today may steadily develop into severe pain tomorrow. Treatment can help prevent the pain from growing worse, and your dentist can always provide pain relievers just in case they are needed.
3. Moving Your Jaw Can Become Harder
Pericoronitis will often cause localized swelling, and this too can grow worse if the problem goes untreated. When pericoronitis advances, swelling in parts of the face and jaw can make it harder to bite, chew or even open and close your mouth. More serious complications include an infection of the operculum, or the tissue that surrounds wisdom teeth.
4. Risk of Decay Can Increase
Since pericoronitis occurs when food particles are allowed to collect beneath skin flaps, bacteria often develop more easily. This isn't just bad for the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. That bacteria will also work to break down the enamel of surrounding teeth and create cavities. As such, seeking treatment as soon as possible can help protect all of your teeth—not just the affected wisdom tooth.
Visit a dental service like Queen Street Dental for assistance.