This painful bacterial infection is very common among children. It causes pain and discomfort to many children. However, the good news is that the disease can be treated. With careful prevention and timely intervention this disease can be completely treated.
What is abscessed tooth?
It is a pimple like swelling which happens at the base of the tooth or on the gums. It is bacterial infection. It causes the accumulation of pus at the base of the gums. It is indeed very painful for your child. (Milgrom, 2000).
Abscess can also spread to other parts of your child’s mouth. Areas like jaws, gums, and even other body parts might be affected if timely treatment is not offered. Sometimes an untreated tooth abscess can also prove to be life-threatening. That is why an early intervention and proper prevention measure is critical for this bacterial tooth infection.
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Causes of Tooth Abscess in Children
There are many things which trigger this bacterial infestation in children. Some of these things create a favorable environment for the bacteria to grow inside the mouth.
- Tooth Decay: Decaying tooth is a very common initiating factor for tooth abscess. Many children suffer from tooth decays. This gives the bacteria the perfect opportunity to grow in those gaps.
- Chipped or Injured tooth: Children who had suffered a tooth injury are also vulnerable to this disease. The damaged area in the tooth can invite the bacteria and make your child suffer.
- Grinding and Clenching: Activities like grinding and clenching often creates additional pressure on the teeth and the gums. That is how sometimes they get damaged in little children. Sometimes minute damages can also make way for bigger problems like tooth abscess.
Since any of these can happen to your child, please make sure that his/her dental health is up-to-the mark. Also it is normally the third molar which is affected by the disease. A regular visit to the doctors will sort the issue for your child.
Symptoms of Tooth Abscess
The most prominent symptom of tooth abscess is red swelling inside the mouth. It normally happens near a tooth or two teeth. If you want to be certain whether or not your child has tooth abscess then check out the following symptoms:
- Red swelling (looks like pimples) near any tooth or teeth
- Tooth turning dark in color
- Pus coming out from the swelling
- Severe pain while chewing
- Loss of appetite due to unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Your child’s cheek will become firm
- The gums and cheeks can also swell, depending upon the severity of the infection
- High fever
The region affected by the abscess remains very sensitive. It hurts when your child tries to chew. Whenever it comes in contact with any foreign objects like food it causes tremendous pain. However, in some of the rare cases there no pain associated with tooth abscess. (Milgrom, 2000).
Detecting Tooth Abscess
Tooth abscess can be quite dangerous and if not treated immediately then it can spread out to many other parts of the body. If any of the above mentioned symptoms are visible in your child then you should immediately call your pediatrician or a dentist.
There are many ways a dentist will try and detect the problem in your child:
- Checking the sensitivity of the teeth by tapping it gently
- If the apparent signs are not obvious then he/she might also ask for an X-ray
- If the infection has spread in other parts of the mouth and neck then the doctor might also ask for a proper CT scan in order to detect the impact of the problem.
The treatment of the infection starts with the proper diagnosis. Untreated tooth abscessed can be quite fatal.
Treatment of Tooth Abscess in Children
The treatment of tooth abscess varies on the nature of the problem and also the severity of the impact. Earlier detection makes the treatment procedure much easier for the doctor and also your child is likely to face less pain and suffering.
- In case the disease is in its nascent stage then the doctor might prefer to drain out the pus by making an incision in the swelling. The pus is then gently cleaned away with saline water. This treatment is only applicable in case of very less number of swellings. (Chalmers, 2015).
- If of the tooth or two teeth are completely damaged then the dentist might prefer to pull the teeth out completely before the infection spreads further. This alternative is much more painful when compared to the previous treatment method.
- In some of the cases the dentist might also opt to conduct a root canal surgery if the bacterial infestation reaches the gums of your child. In this case the dentist will first drain the pus completely by creating a vacuum in the tooth. Then he/she will seal your child’s tooth with a pulp. This is rather a painful operation.
If the molar is affected (which is normally the case) then the doctor might also fit in a crown on the top of it. Apart from the above mentioned surgical intervention the dentists might also prescribe antibiotics in order to prevent the bacteria from spreading further in the mouth and the body.
Things you need to do
If your child is diagnosed with tooth abscess then you need to do certain things to ensure that the infection is not spread further:
- Make sure your child is having the prescribed medicines on time
- Do not miss the dentist’s appointment at regular intervals. This will help the doctor to detect whether the course of the recovery is on track.
- Make sure that you are taking proper care of the infection, at home, and following the instructions of the doctor.
Prevention of Abscessed Tooth in Children
Prevention is always better than cure and that is why it is important for you know the ways you can stop this disease from happening to your child.
- Teach your child to maintain a proper oral hygiene by rinsing the mouth and brushing twice a day.
- Cut down on the amount of sugary treats because they are the ones that trigger tooth decay
- Check with the dentist and give the appropriate toothpaste to your child.
- If any damage or chipping of the tooth occurs then address the issue almost immediately and take your child to the doctor
- Make regular visits to the dentist
We often tend to neglect the oral health of our children especially when the milk-teeth are yet to fall off. However, bacterial infections like tooth abscess should be taken seriously and addressed with proper caution.