What is An Operculum?
An operculum is a piece of gum tissue that stays on the tooth’s biting surface after tooth eruption. Typically, after a tooth erupts into the mouth, it erupts high enough to break through the gum tissue, and the gum tissue surrounds the bottom portion of the tooth. An operculum occurs when a tooth erupts, and some of the gum tissue remains on top of the tooth’s biting surface. This makes it challenging to keep the tooth clean, making it prone to inflammation and infection.
An operculum commonly affects the back teeth because there is often a lack of space at the back of the mouth for these teeth, and the operculum cannot resolve on its own. If an operculum doesn’t heal on its own and becomes inflamed and infected, it is called pericoronitis.
Common Treatment Options for an Operculum
- Leave it to see if it resolves on its own while keeping the area clean
- Either scalpel off or laser off the tissue from the biting surface of the tooth and let it heal at the correct height
- Surgical intervention, especially if it’s a wisdom tooth that doesn’t fit properly into the arch, the wisdom tooth may need extraction
How to Keep an Operculum Clean
- Use a toothbrush (either manual or electric) and make sure to spend an adequate time cleaning around the operculum, letting the bristles of the toothbrush access underneath the flap of gum.
- Use a sulcabrush (which is similar to a manual toothbrush but has 1/3rd of the bristles) to access underneath the flap of gum to clean out food debris.
- Use a CDA approved mouthwash at least once a day to help reduce the bacteria in the area.
- Use a monojet to squirt mouthwash under the flap of gum.
- Ensure you visit your dentist and dental hygienist at least every six months to keep it clean and check the health of the teeth and gums
- If you begin experiencing any pain, soreness or notice it appears red and inflamed, visit your dentist immediately
If you think you may have an operculum or have any questions about an operculum or pericoronitis, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.