If you have a child nearing their teenage years, you may have heard us discussing the risk of impacted wisdom teeth. At Southern Cross Dental in Colorado Springs, our goal is to preserve a patient’s teeth, but the wisdom teeth often encounter problems that require us to remove them. One of the most common problems when they are unable to erupt completely is pericoronitis, so we wanted our patients to better understand it.
An impacted tooth is one which is partly or entirely unable to push through the gum line. As the largest teeth and the last to erupt, the wisdom teeth frequently are impacted, with a portion of them sticking through the gum and most of them still inside it. The part of a dental crown that breaks through the gum line may still be covered by a flap of gingival tissue called an operculum. Food debris and bacteria can easily get stuck in between the operculum and the crown, leading to recurring infections. “Pericoronitis” is the phrase we use to describe inflammation around a dental crown.
It is difficult for a person to clean an impacted tooth. They should still brush and floss regularly and may also want to try swishing salt water in their mouth, but they will probably need our professional help to remove build-up. We may have to cut away the operculum, and because impacted wisdom teeth often cause misalignments and jaw pain in addition to pericoronitis, we will often extract them.
Drs. Navid and Faranak Rahimpour operate Southern Cross Dental at 1855 S Nevada Ave, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80905-2516. To schedule an appointment, call 719-471-1717 or visit Southern Cross Dental and fill out a contact sheet.