Wisdom Teeth Causing Pericoronitis? How to Avoid Extraction

by Sarah Natural Remedies, Oral HealthComments: 9

pericoronitisSeveral years ago, I wrote an article concerning the frustratingly persistent myths about wisdom tooth extraction. Whether dentists care to admit it or not, the truth is that in over two-thirds of cases, wisdom teeth absolutely do NOT need to be removed. This according to Dr. Jay Friedman DDS in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Unless wisdom teeth are specifically causing a problem, then extraction should never even be considered. The very real risks of serious complications and oral damage down the road from the procedure far outweigh the overhyped “benefits” of having third molars removed. (1)

You’re welcome. If you have children, that piece of research just saved you a lot of money.

What if there ARE complications with wisdom teeth such as the potentially serious condition known as pericoronitis? I just experienced this very scenario with my oldest child who recently graduated from high school. The good news is that you can probably still avoid wisdom tooth extraction.

Pericoronitis

A frequent problem when the wisdom teeth come in is that a flap of gum tissue overlaps the chewing surface of the tooth. This soft tissue is known as an operculum. It is typically difficult to access with normal oral hygiene methods and as such prone to infection and inflammation.

In my son’s case, the problem involved both of his lower wisdom teeth. The gum tissue overlapped about half the chewing surface. The upper wisdom teeth are fine.

This flap of skin causes issues with keeping the wisdom teeth clean. In addition, small bits of food easily can become trapped under the overlapping gum tissue, where a toothbrush or even saliva cannot reach. Chronic inflammation or an acute infection can result.

Chronic Pericoronitis

My son dealt with mild pericoronitis from time to time for about a year. Fortunately, the situation resolved very quickly each time. Then, a couple of months ago, after eating some soaked nuts and seeds, tiny food particles got trapped under the gum on one side. He was unable to clean it using normal dental hygiene. The gum became infected, the jaw swelled, he spiked a fever, and the pain became very intense.

He would describe it as the worst pain he has ever experienced!

Acute Pericoronitis

At that point, I thought that his wisdom teeth would need to come out. I made an emergency appointment with our holistic dentist, who thoughtfully counseled against extraction. He said that simple surgery to remove the excess gum should do the trick. This would preserve the integrity of all four wisdom teeth, which are all in very good shape, straight and in alignment with the other teeth.

The first order of business, though, was to resolve the acute pericoronitis infection.

Recovering from Acute Pericoronitis Without Antibiotics

Our natural dentist prescribed an herbal antibiotic called Restenoril instead of pharmaceutical antibiotics for the pericoronitis infection. My children have never taken drug based antibiotics, so if an option existed to resolve the gum infection naturally, I was all in. Avoiding antibiotics is very important when possible as gut damage from a single round of antibiotics can persist for years or even be permanent. I was grateful our dentist shared my sentiments on the issue.

Restenoril contains the powerful anti-inflammatory herb derived from the stems of the Burmese plant Andrographis paniculata. Our dentist prescribed 2 capsules in the morning and 2 again in the evening. This herbal antibiotic proved very effective with no gut destruction or side effects like what happens with meds. The infection resolved completely within a few days and the gum inflammation cleared about a week later.  

Surgery to Remove Overlapping Gum on Wisdom Teeth

With the infection healed, the next step was to prevent a recurrence of pericoronitis in the future. This involved removal of the overlapping gum tissue that was partially covering the chewing surface of the lower wisdom teeth.

Why Bother to Keep the Wisdom Teeth?

Why not just extract the wisdom teeth when pericoronitis presents as an issue? For one thing, this would be like using a firehose to put out a candle.

If a much less invasive, less complicated and very low risk procedure works instead of just ripping out all 4 wisdom teeth, then why not do that? In addition, it is much better for long term health to KEEP the wisdom teeth if at all possible! This key point is missed by conventional dentistry entirely.

Removal of the wisdom teeth runs the high risk of complications, damage, and trauma to the jaw and oral nerves. In addition, each tooth via the nervous system affects the functioning of the internal organs. Removing all 4 wisdom teeth can actually hinder the optimal functioning of your internal organs for the rest of your life! This chart on tooth meridians, an important aspect of Eastern medicine, illustrates which organs the health of each tooth affects.

Won’t the Gum Tissue Grow Back?

If removing opercula is chosen instead of tooth extraction, there is some risk that the gum tissue could simply grow back. However, our natural dentist said the chance of this happening was very low. In my son’s case, the wisdom teeth are fully erupted and properly in line with the other teeth. Moreover, if the gum did grow back, it probably wouldn’t grow back completely. In other words, the regrowth would be small enough (around 20%) to not cause problems.

The surgery took less than an hour with only a local anesthetic necessary. This compares with wisdom tooth extraction which frequently involves the risk of putting a patient totally under.

Two stitches were required on each side after removal of the excess gum tissue. My son was sent home with no prescriptions.

No Antibiotics after Gum Surgery

Yes, you read that right. NO PRESCRIPTIONS for antibiotics or pain after dental surgery. Conventional dentists would never think something like that is even possible!

My son simply continued on his 2 in the morning, 2 in the evening Restenoril herbal antibiotic for the next week. For pain, the dentist sent him home with homeopathic arnica (3 pills per day). He only needed it for one day.

The stitches stayed in for a full week. After that, the stitches were removed by the dentist and the gums examined.

Gum Swelling Remained after Surgery

After removing the stitches, slight gum inflammation remained such that tissue still partially covered the lower wisdom teeth. The dentist suspected that some food had adhered to the stitches causing mild gingivitis to develop. With the stitches now removed, my son could keep the area squeaky clean.

To facilitate resolution of the swelling, the dentist recommended a monoject or hobby syringe for a week to shoot a stream of 3% hydrogen peroxide in between the swollen gum and the back of the lower wisdom teeth after meals. This would disinfect the area and keep it very clean. A hobby syringe only costs a few dollars and is easy to use. Using colloidal silver or ozonated water instead of hydrogen peroxide works too.

The good news is that after a week of using the hobby syringe, the gum swelling resolved with no gum tissue covering any part of the lower wisdom teeth. As a result, my son required no further treatment!

Note: if after the swelling resolved some gum tissue still covered the wisdom teeth, the dentist planned to use a laser to trim off a bit more tissue (no stitches). Fortunately, this turned out to be unnecessary.

Would You Like to Keep Your Wisdom Teeth Too?

If you are having a tough time finding a dentist who “gets it” about the importance of keeping your wisdom teeth, feel free to contact the amazing dentists at Natural Dentistry in Clearwater, Florida.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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