According to WebMD, pericoronitis occurs when the wisdom tooth partially erupts through the gums, allowing bacteria to enter the cavity and cause an infection. The high risk of wisdom tooth infection, or pericoronitis, may be one of the major reasons your dentist advises you to get them pulled.
Causing uncomfortable pain and swelling in the gums around the partially erupted wisdom tooth, pericoronitis can only be fully avoided by having your wisdom teeth removed before they break through your gums. In some cases, food or plaque is the cause of the infected wisdom tooth. When the tooth begins to erupt, food or plaque can get stuck below a flap of gum around surrounding the tooth, irritating the gum in some cases and leading to an infection.
In severe cases of infected wisdom teeth, according to WebMD, the infection can extend beyond the gum into the jaw, cheeks and the neck. The most common symptoms of an infected wisdom tooth are pain, swollen gums, swelling of the lymph nodes, a bad taste or foul odor and difficulty opening the mouth wide. Though severe cases require treatment from a dentist, says WebMD, minor infections can be treated at home with a warm saltwater mouth rinse.