An impacted wisdom tooth can trap food particles and debris. Bacteria feed on these food particles, which may cause infection of the surrounding tissue. This is called pericoronitis.
Pericoronitis may include any of the following symptoms: pain, swollen gum tissue in the area of the affected tooth, difficulty in biting or opening of the mouth, swelling of the cervical (neck) lymph nodes, foul smell or taste in the mouth, pus from the gum tissue near the tooth or swelling on the affected side of the face.
Patients with pericoronitis are given antibiotics to combat the infection. Additionally, warm saltwater rinses will help with healing. If treated, the infection should resolve within one week. Your dentist may advise you to have the impacted tooth removed. However, the offending tooth can only be removed once the infection is under control.