Dental Abscess (Child) - University of Minnesota Medical Center
 
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Dental Abscess (Child)

Cavities are bacterial deposits on the teeth. They are caused by a lack of oral hygiene and a poor diet. Bacteria can enter the tooth through a cavity or crack or following a trauma. If bacteria enter the center or root of a tooth and cause an infection there, it is called a dental abscess.

Symptoms of a dental abscess include continuous pain that is either sharp or throbbing. The affected tooth is sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure. The gums can be red and swollen. The child can also have a swollen neck or jaw and a fever. Some children have a bitter taste in the mouth or bad breath.

Treatment involves saving the tooth and preventing complications. Antibiotics usually clear the infection. Medication and ice packs may reduce the pain. Good oral hygiene keeps the mouth healthy. Sometimes a root canal is needed to save the tooth. In rare cases, surgery is required to drain the abscess.

Home Care:

Medications: The doctor may prescribe medications for infection, pain, and fever. The doctor may also prescribe fluoride tablets to help prevent tooth decay. Follow the doctor’s instructions for giving these medications to your child. If your child is receiving an antibiotic, be sure to give all the medication until the prescription is finished, even if the symptoms have gone away.

General Care:

  1. Apply an ice compress for up to 20 minutes several times a day to reduce pain and relieve swelling. Use a bag of crushed ice or frozen vegetables covered with a thin, dry cloth.

  2. Have your child rinse his or her mouth with warm saltwater. This will help reduce irritation, gum swelling, and pain. Be sure your child does not swallow the rinse.

  3. Have your child brush his or her teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristle toothbrush. Assist your child in areas that are difficult to reach, such as back molars.

  4. Have your child eat a healthy diet and avoid sugary beverages.

  5. Watch your child for signs of worsening infection (given below).

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Special Notes To Parents:

By the time children are 3 years old, they usually have a full set of baby teeth. Around the age of 6 to 7 years, permanent teeth start erupting. It is important to brush both baby and permanent teeth to prevent cavities. Also make sure your child has regular dental checkups. Ask the dentist how often your child should be seen.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Pain and swelling in neck or face

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increasing signs of infection such as continued redness or swelling, worsening pain, or foul-smelling drainage from the affected area