An oral and maxillofacial surgeon with more than a decade of experience, Dr. Rocky Cullens has treated patients since 2013. Dr. Rocky Cullens performs everything from surgical repair of jaw trauma to routine procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction. One common complication of untreated wisdom teeth is pericoronitis, an inflammation of the gum tissues surrounding a partially erupted tooth.

Because the jaw rarely has enough room to accommodate third molars (“wisdom teeth”), these teeth often only partially break through the gums and erupt at an angle. This is called an impaction. In these cases, the surrounding gum tissues typically form flaps around the tooth, trapping food debris and bacteria. If not kept meticulously clean, the gums can swell and develop infection, which may spread without treatment.

Initial treatments may include managing pain and infection with medications. The oral surgeon may also remove the gum flap, but the more effective treatment is to extract the wisdom tooth surgically, which will prevent future recurrences of pericoronitis.