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The Best Ways to Help a Child with an Abscessed Tooth

An abscess is a bacterial infection of a tooth or surrounding gums, and can be very painful. As a parent, it helps to know what to do to get your child the relief they need. Here are the treatments for an abscessed tooth in your child’s mouth and how to prevent it from happening.

What Causes an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth occurs when a pocket of pus forms in the gum tissues around the tooth. This could be due to food trapped deep in their gums, an injury to the mouth, or poor oral hygiene that leads to untreated cavities.

A child with an abscessed tooth will feel pain in the gum tissue, usually accompanied by redness and swelling. The swelling may look like a pimple on the gums. The pain can extend down into the jaw and is often worse when chewing or eating.

The tooth itself may also turn darker than the surrounding teeth. Your child may complain of a bad taste in their mouth and their breath may turn bad.

dentist looking at tooth X-rays

Occasionally, a child with an abscessed tooth will exhibit no symptoms. This is because the tooth has lost vitality, meaning the ability to feel, so there is no pain. These abscesses are usually discovered via routine X-rays, so it’s especially important to maintain regular dental visits for your child.

How To Treat an Abscessed Tooth

If you think there is an abscessed tooth in your child’s mouth, the only treatment is to take them to the dentist. You cannot treat an abscessed tooth at home, so make an appointment with your pediatric dentist immediately.

The dentist will likely give your child antibiotics to fight the infection. They may also make a small hole in the tooth or lance (cut open) the gums to drain the fluid. The pain of your child’s abscessed tooth should lessen with these procedures. If necessary, they may replace the pulp of the tooth with a medicinal filling or healing medicine.

At Home Abscessed Tooth in Child Treatment After the Dentist

Once you’re home from the dentist, there are a few things you can do to ease any discomfort your child may be feeling.

Place an ice pack or cold pack inside a cloth against their face to reduce pain and swelling from the procedure. Keep the ice on for 10 to 20 minutes and off for 20 minutes.

If your child’s dentist prescribed any medication for pain in addition to antibiotics, make sure to administer the pills as directed. Do not stop the antibiotics even once your child feels better; they need to finish the entire course.

How to Prevent Abscessed Teeth in Your Child

two children brushing their teeth

The single best way to prevent an abscessed tooth is proper oral hygiene. Your child should be brushing their teeth for a full two minutes, twice per day, with a fluoride toothpaste.

They also need to floss once per day. This is especially important because it removes any food trapped between the teeth and gums.

If your child is old enough, they can also use a mouthwash to add to their oral health. While it’s not a substitute for brushing and flossing, once those two tasks are done, a final rinse with mouthwash can help loosen any lingering bits of food, as well as kill bacteria.

To avoid having a child with an abscessed tooth, also make sure to visit the dentist every six months. With these regular check-ups, your child’s dentist will not only provide a deep clean, but can spot potential issues before they escalate.

Additionally, if your child complains of teeth sensitivity, gum pain, or if they damage or fracture a tooth, visit the dentist as soon as you can. Damaged teeth are particularly susceptible to bacteria infecting the pulp and causing an abscess, so getting it taken care of as soon as possible is key to prevention.

Contact Children’s Dentistry in Las Vegas Today

If you think your child has an abscessed tooth, contact us right away. Our team is dedicated to ensuring your child has a safe and relaxing experience in our care, regardless of the need for the visit. Call us at (702) 832-0508 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.