Pericoronitis is an infection of the gum flap overlying partially erupted molars, most commonly the wisdom teeth.  Food and plaque are trapped under the gum causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. Secondary cellulitis of the surrounding soft tissues can develop.


  • Patients complain of pain, gum swelling, and inability to bite down on the affected side

Treatment & Referral

  • Mild cases can be managed with irrigation under the flap
  • Cellulitis should be treated with antibiotics
  • Administer analgesics as needed
  • Recurrent cases may require removal of tooth or gum flap
AAFP—with permission
AAFP—with permission
Joanna Douglass, BDS, DDS
Joanna Douglass, BDS, DDS


Soams JV, Southam JC. Oral Pathology. 3rd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998;51-70.

Douglass AB, Douglass JM. Common dental emergencies. Am Fam Physician. 2003. 67(3):511-6.