Why do the gums behind my molars hurt?
If the gums behind your molars are causing you a lot of pain, there’s a possibility you may have developed a condition known as pericoronitis. This is a fairly common dental issue that causes the gum tissue behind your molars to become infected and swollen, which can be quite painful. It most commonly occurs around the wisdom teeth as they erupt.
What are the causes of pericoronitis?
Pericoronitis usually develops when the wisdom teeth only partially erupt through the gums. This gives harmful bacteria and opening to make their way in around the tooth, causing an infection to develop. In many cases, a piece of food or a buildup of plaque can get caught underneath the small flap of the gum around the tooth. Eventually the gum will become irritated, leading to pericoronitis. If the condition become severe, the swelling may spread into the jaw, neck, and cheeks.
Symptoms of pericoronitis
Pericoronitis can vary in intensity and include:
- Swelling in the gums
- A bad or metallic taste in the mouth
- Problems opening and closing the mouth
- Swelling in the neck’s lymph nodes
If you experience these symptoms, let our dentist know right away. If pericoronitis is suspected, your dentist will check your wisdom teeth to ensure they are coming in properly. A dental x-ray may be taken in order to make your wisdom teeth are aligned properly.
Treatment for pericoronitis
If the pain and swelling of your pericoronitis hasn’t spread beyond the tooth, it may be treated by rising your mouth a few times a day with warm salt water. Ensure that the gum flap hasn’t trapped any food particles underneath it. However, if the area around the tooth, as well as your cheek and jaw become swollen or very painful, you need to see your dentist as soon as possible. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, and a prescription pain reliever may be recommended as well. Until you receive these prescriptions, try controlling your pain with over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If the inflammation is very severe, or if your pericoronitis is a recurring condition, you may need oral surgery in order to remove the wisdom tooth or gum flap. Usually removing the wisdom tooth can provide you with nearly immediate relief, as well as preventing future dental issues that will require further treatment.