Inflammation of the gum around an impacted wisdom tooth is called pericoronitis. It usually presents with pain, redness and swelling. There will often be a bad taste from the area. Sometimes you may experience a sore throat or tightness when swallowing. The pain may radiate up and down the face and back to the ear. The opposing tooth may begin to bite on the swollen gum causing even more swelling and difficulty eating. Very occasionally you may become a bit ill generally and feverish.
Effective Methods of Pain Relief
Typically the wisdom tooth may begin to give trouble when you are a bit run down and may begin to recover when you feel better which can take up to a week. Recovery can be aided by saltwater rinses or .2% chlorhexidine mouthwash, (corsodyl is a popular brand). Also use of anti-inflammatory tablet-like ibuprofen can help. If at that stage your tooth is not feeling better or if you feel in general unwell, a trip to the dentist is recommended. Usually, your dentist will flush the area with antiseptic thereby removing any food packing and infected material. The situation with the opposing tooth will be assessed to relieve the pressure on the swollen gum and a prescription given. Unfortunately, wisdom tooth pain often reoccurs and sometimes swaps sides of the mouth. The situations where a wisdom tooth my need to be extracted are
- Persistent pain, constantly returning and becoming more severe
- Causing significant food packing and a risk to the health of the tooth in front of it
- Decay to the wisdom tooth- as they are usually in a location where they can’t be filled and will progress to an abscess
Upper wisdom teeth can be extracted by a general dentist however lower wisdom teeth often need a referral to a specialist oral surgeon. This is because they can lie quite close to two nerves in the lower jaw which travel to the lower lip and tongue. Even the most careful extraction of wisdom teeth carries a risk of damage to these nerves of approximately 1-4%. A more accurate risk for an individual would be assessed by the surgeon from an x-ray or scan.