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  • Writer's picturerymerws

Eurovision Wisdom

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

This week we learnt that the Irish Eurovision act this year was almost sunk at the eleventh hour, not by the complex politics of the Middle East, but by her wisdom teeth.

Obviously we don't have access to her dental records, but from what has been said by her in the days after the trauma, we can read between the lines that she has developed a painful condition that commonly affects the wisdom teeth as they erupt (grow through the gum). Pericoronitis. This is a gum infection that affects the little flap of gum that overhangs the back of the wisdom tooth (the operculum).

This is an extremely painful type of gum infection that typically starts due to plaque bacteria or food debris packing in under the flap of gum and becoming lodged into a tight space that is very difficult to clean. The gum reacts to this irritation by becoming red, swollen and tender. Eventually the area can become infected giving rise to facial swelling, general malaise, fever and poor/painful opening of the jaw (trismus).

Most of the time this can be simply remedied by removing the debris. This is performed under a local anaesthetic and we use a regular scaler to remove debris and clean the tooth. We may then irrigate the area with an antibacterial solution to help reduce the inflammation.

Occasionally this problem can keep recurring, it may be necessary to consider the removal of the wisdom tooth to allow a return to normal health. Today, it is very rare that this condition would be treated with antibiotics. Physically treating the infection rather than providing antibiotics will give a much better result, and the overuse of antibiotics has led to the rise of really serious superbug infections such as MRSA.

Most of the time if they require removal, the wisdom teeth cause few problems and are removed simply like any other tooth. There are circumstances though where we may employ the services of a surgical specialist to remove the tooth either on the clinic or under a general anaesthetic, and this is often due to the shape and the position of the tooth. Again, thankfully this is much less common than it would once have been as we improve our preventative approach.

Luckily for Ireland Sarah McTernan's tooth appears to have been fixed, she will participate in the Eurovision semi-final tonight (Thursday 16th May) and hopefully the people of Europe will have the wisdom to see her into the final in Tel Aviv on Saturday night

(Eurovision final can be viewed on Saturday 18th May RTE1 at 8pm)

Good Luck Sarah!

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