A dental abscess is a serious oral health condition, and unfortunately, it's a condition that can target a child just as quickly as an adult. As a parent, you must understand what this condition is, how to recognize it, and learn important information about treatment.
What is a Dental Abscess?
At its core, a dental abscess is a severe infection. The infection can form for many different reasons, but it's most often the result of a tooth cavity that goes unaddressed. As time passes, bacteria collect inside the cavity opening, the infection sets up, and a small pocket of pus forms.
A dental abscess can also form through a crack or chip in the tooth that leaves a path for the bacteria to travel to the root of the tooth. Keep in mind; if left untreated, the infection can travel to the bloodstream and cause major health concerns.
What are the Symptoms?
Your first indication that your child might have an abscess is expressed discomfort. A dental abscess can be incredibly painful. On one hand, the infection at the root level causes throbbing pain and the pus pocket that forms causes a sharp stabbing or stinging pain, especially when the child talks or chews.
However, if your child has a high pain tolerance, they might not make this type of complaint. Other indicators of an abscess can include fever or swelling around the affected tooth or entire side of the mouth of the affected tooth.
What Does Treatment Look Like?
Treatment for a dental abscess in a child varies depending on the age of the child. If the child is very young and their adult teeth have not yet erupted, the provider will likely decide to extract the tooth. Since the infection is in the tooth, removing the tooth often removes the infection. If your child is older and the abscess occurs in a permanent tooth, the provider might opt to perform a root canal.
A root canal is a procedure that involves removing the infected pulp, inserting a dental filling, and then sealing the tooth. Once cleaned, an antibiotic is often prescribed to eradicate the infection. A follow up is scheduled to ensure the infection has been resolved. In cases of a severe infection, the child's tooth might need to be removed.
If you suspect your child has a dental abscess or you have any other concerns about your child's oral health, speak with a pediatric dental provider as soon as possible.