What are the risks of untreated pericoronitis? (photo)
What are the risks if the swollen gum remains untreated?
When the gum flap covers the partially erupted tooth, there is a tendency for food and bacteria to be trapped under the gum flap, and there is difficulty in cleaning under the gum flap, and this usually and inevitably leads to inflammation and ultimately, infection.
It is important to address pericoronitis promptly. At its mildest form, there is a feeling of low grade pain, swelling and a bad odour coming from the infected area. At times, there could be some resolution of the inflammation before it reaches full blown infection, but almost always, the condition will recur. It also does not help that the upper opposing tooth continuously bites down and irritates the gum flap.
As pericoronitis becomes more severe, the infection can spread from the affected area to the cheeks and neck. There may be greater amount of swelling, which in turn leads to difficulty in opening the mouth (a condition called trismus), and associated fever, discharge of pus, pain on swallowing and lymph node swelling. In rare cases, complications of pericoronitis can be life-threatening. This occurs when the infection spreads under the jaw and tongue, leading to neck pain and breathing problems due to obstruction of the airway. This dangerous condition is known as Ludwig's Angina. There is also the possibility that the infection can spread into the bloodstream, in a condition known as sepsis, which can also be life-threatening.
It is crucial that symptoms of pericoronitis are treated swiftly to keep the infection from spreading and to lessen the risks of complications.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of pericoronitis should contact their dentist as soon as possible.