How to Treat Swollen Gums Near Wisdom Tooth

How to Treat Swollen Gums Near Wisdom Tooth

The wisdom tooth is known to cause inflammation (pain and swelling) around it. Pericoronitis or swollen gums near wisdom teeth is most common in young people between 20 to 29 years of age. Therefore, one of the most common questions asked by these patients is “How to treat swollen gums near wisdom tooth?” In this article, we will be addressing this question in detail.

What is Pericoronitis?

Infection and swelling of the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth, i.e., the last set of molars that erupt in the late teens or early 20s, is known as pericoronitis. It occurs more frequently near the lower wisdom teeth than the upper ones. 

Other than being swollen, there is often an operculum on the wisdom tooth. The operculum refers to a small portion of the gum tissue. Depending upon the severity of pericoronitis, the surgeon may recommend the removal of the excess gum tissue covering the wisdom tooth. 

Causes of Pericoronitis

The main reason this infection develops near the wisdom tooth is the lack of proper cleaning due to difficulty accessing the last standing tooth. Continuous collection of food debris harbors bacteria. These bacteria trigger extreme pain and swelling in the form of pericoronitis. So, how to treat swollen gums near wisdom tooth?

Pericoronitis in the lower wisdom tooth can result from constant pressure and trauma from the upper wisdom tooth. In such a case, the extraction of an opposing wisdom tooth is an option, while the lower molar is preserved, provided that it is a sound tooth. 

Risk Factors of Pericoronitis

Some of the significant risk factors of pericoronitis include:

Age between 20 to 29

This is the peak age between which the wisdom teeth generally appear. Therefore, the chances of pericoronitis also increase in this age group.

Improperly Erupted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth generally do not erupt in their designated orientation. They appear typically tilted, horizontal, or vertical than their desired position. As a result, due to the lack of cleaning and the unfavorable shape and position of wisdom teeth, pericoronitis is imminent. 

Excess Gum Tissue

Sometimes, having extra gum tissue around the wisdom teeth could cause hygiene complications in that area. This makes the conditions favorable for bacteria to survive and grow. 


Pericoronitis may occur due to hormonal alterations in pregnant women, which might elevate the chances of disease.

What are the Symptoms of Pericoronitis?

Symptoms of pericoronitis differ depending on whether it is acute or chronic. In acute pericoronitis, the patient experiences:

  • Bone-piercing pain near the wisdom tooth
  • Puffiness of the gums
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Face swollen from wisdom tooth 
  • Bad breath
  • Lockjaw

In contrast, recurrent or chronic pericoronitis has the following features: 

  • Foul odor in the mouth
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Pain lasting for 2 or more days. 

Understanding these symptoms will enable you to identify them early. This allows you to undergo prompt treatment, relieving discomfort and ensuring optimal oral health.

How is Pericoronitis Diagnosed?

Your dentist will examine your tooth to see if it’s partially erupted and check the surrounding gum tissue. They’ll note your symptoms and may take an X-ray. A radiograph helps to diagnose pericoronitis because it shows the location and orientation of the erupting third molars. Radiographs like OPG, Panoramic radiographs, CBCT, etc., are helpful.

What are the Complications of Pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis has several associated complications, such as infection, inability to eat and speak, locked jaw, etc. Issues can probably happen when symptoms are left untreated for a longer period. 


At times, the infection spreads beyond the infected tissues to other parts of the head and neck that may be painful.


Another complication is trismus. Trismus means muscle spasms in the largest joint of the face – the temporomandibular joint. Trismus makes it challenging for people to open their mouths or bite thoroughly.

Ludwig's Angina

Even though fatal complications are infrequent, in exceptional cases, they can even be life-threatening. Failure to treat pericoronitis can lead to the development of Ludwig’s angina, an infection that has spread to the regions under the jaw and tongue. Moreover, there is a chance that your doctor might hospitalize you due to a severe infection of the middle ear, throat, or sinuses.

Additionally, the spread of the infection into the bloodstream is a possibility in a condition called sepsis. It can be equally fatal to patients. Therefore, it is essential not to ignore any signs or symptoms of pericoronitis.

How to Treat Swollen Gums Near Wisdom Tooth

Your dentist will consider several vital factors before determining which treatment is best for your pericoronitis. The following is a brief outline of pericoronitis treatment. 

  • Managing or reducing the pain occurring in the molar area.
  • Lifting the flap on the tooth.
  • Removing (extracting) the tooth
  • Managing pain

When the tooth is expected to erupt on its own, your dentist may choose to assist you in handling the symptoms by not cutting the flap or the tooth. In this case, solid painkillers or analgesics like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can alleviate the pain. 

Furthermore, your dentist will floss the gum area around the tooth to avoid the accumulation of plaque and food residues. They can use local anesthesia to help with the pain. 


If your dentist identifies a tooth or gum flap that needs to be removed, they will send you to a dental or oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Sometimes, the gum regrows over the tooth, and a second surgery has to be made. Dental extraction usually solves the problem. However, the extraction decision is made after a thorough analysis and discussion with the patient. 

Home Treatments

While connecting with your dentist or oral surgeon for personalized treatment is essential, they will also advise on home treatments. They should be combined with professional care; don’t consider them as replacements. Home remedies include:


This article addresses your question, “How to treat swollen gums near wisdom tooth?” The treatment depends on the extent of pericoronitis. It is essential to rule out the cause and nip it in the bud.

The best approach would be to consult dental experts in Montclair, NJ. You can book your appointment with the best dentists in Montclair, NJ, at Dr. Arthur Yeh and Associates. We offer personalized and budget-friendly treatment plans for you.