An abscessed tooth is a tooth that has a pocket of pus in the tissue around it. The pus forms when the body is fighting an infection that is caused by bacteria. If the pus cannot be drained it forms an abscess, this can cause swollen, red gums and pain.
Most of the time this condition is caused when tooth decay is so deep and advanced that it reached the “pulp” (which is the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels).
If left untreated this infection can damage other teeth, spread into other areas of the body and in extreme cases can be life-threatening.
Children are at higher risk of dental infections than adults as their immune systems are not mature yet.
Dental infections cannot be treated without professional medical (dental) care! So it is necessary to consult with your child’s dentist if he/she shows any of the following signs or symptoms:
- tooth has a darker color than usual
- sensitivity or pain when chewing
- swollen/red gums, neck or jaw
- bitter taste/bad breath (persistent)
- loss of appetite/weight
- fever/sickness (nausea, vomiting, chills, diarrhea)
If a dentist is unavailable and your child has fever, swelling in the face or swelling in the jaw go to the emergency room (your child’s airway may become cut off and prevent your child from breathing!)
How can you prevent you child from having an abscessed tooth?
- brush and floss regularly (help children at least till the age of 8)
- do a regular check inside your child’s mouth for any abnormalities (redness, swelling)
- healthy diet (avoid sugary drinks, offer healthy snacks and water)
- regular dentist appointments (every 6 months)
- follow through with dental treatment if necessary before bigger problems arise
- be aware that even if your child’s tooth ache stops temporarily an infection can still be present – once pus is drained or the root of the tooth died it could give short term relief but the problem does only get bigger if the condition remains untreated