You may think that young children with milk teeth are not ripe for dental problems but, in truth, can have dental abscesses just as adults. Dental Abscess is a buildup of pus inside the tooth or gum tissue resulting from a bacterial infection. If there is a tooth cavity, bacteria can lodge inside the tooth and cause an abscess. Anyone who has experienced dental abscesses will know it is painful though not always.
The dental abscess emergency can have serious health effects on oral health and other parts of the body if not treated immediately. When it comes to the health of your kids, you have to be vigilant as a parent because things can go haywire in a flash. Sometimes parents underestimate the problem and may overlook vital signs that could serve as early warnings like fever and swollen jaw or neck.
There are different types of dental abscesses, including periapical abscesses, periodontal abscesses, and gingival abscesses. In periapical abscess, pus collects at the root of the tooth when the bacterial infection reaches the dental pulp.
Periodontal abscess affects the gum adjacent to the root of a tooth. The periodontal abscess can also spread to the surrounding bones and tissues. On the other hand, gingival abscess affects the gums. A periapical abscess is more common in young children because of a combination of factors, including thinner enamel and poor hygiene.
Common Symptoms of Dental Abscess to Look Out For
Fever and swollen jaws are some of the obvious signs that could tell you that a kid is suffering from a dental abscess. Some children may complain of a bad breathe or experience unending bad taste. Other symptoms include:
- Facial Swelling
- Tooth Sensitivity when exposed to hot or cold food and drinks.
- Loose or discolored teeth
- Pain when biting and chewing
- Facial redness
- Severe toothache characterized by sharp or throbbing pain.
Stages of Dental Abscesses
The following are the main stages of Dental abscess:
- Enamel Decay
The first stage is enamel decay, in which the first layer of the teeth is damaged. Giving your kid a lot of food rich in sugar and acids can damage their tooth enamel. When your child’s tooth gets exposed to acid, enamel starts to lose its minerals. You will see a white spot form on their teeth which is an indication of tooth decay. Some people may experience tooth sensitivity, while others may not experience any symptoms at this stage.
- Dentin Decay
If the enamel decay goes untreated, it will progress to the next stage, dentin decay. Dentin is a hard bony tissue beneath enamel that is yellowish. Dentin decay may make your child experience increased levels of tooth sensitivity.
- Dental Pulp Decay
The deepest layer of a tooth structure is known as pulp. Unfortunately, if bacteria reach the pulp, they attack nerves which cause severe tooth pain.
- Dental Abscess
When tooth decay progresses to reach your child’s pulp, bacteria may infect the area to cause a pup at the bottom of your child’s tooth, known as an abscess. A dental abscess can cause fever, swelling of gums, and swollen lymph nodes. This condition requires prompt treatment since the infection can spread to other parts of your child’s body, including the head and neck.
Ways in Which you Can Prevent Dental Abscesses
You can minimize the chances of developing dental abscesses by maintaining oral health. When the baby is 6 – 11 months, you should brush your children’s teeth to prevent cavities. You should also take your child for dental check ups regularly. You can ask your dentist how often you should go for checkups.
When they are between 12 months – 3 years, they start developing baby teeth. Don’t overfeed your kid with many sugary foods and drinks because this may cause dental cavities. Sugar elements can cause Early Childhood Caries (ECC) and make your child’s tooth decay. Encourage them to brush regularly because tooth decay can cause dental abscesses and also have a ripple effect on the development of their permanent teeth.
Teach your kids to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste or dental floss. You can also show them how to brush correctly in a circular motion, using a baby toothbrush, and ensuring they clean key inner surfaces. Fluoride strengthens their enamel which makes it hard for acid to penetrate. If you suspect that your kid has a dental abscess, you need to act swiftly before the condition affects another part of the body.
When to Seek Medical Attention
A tooth abscess is considered a dental emergency. If left untreated, the bacterial infection can wreak havoc on other parts of your child’s body and have severe life-threatening effects. Therefore, it‘s critical to seek medical attention immediately you notice your child has a fever, persistent swelling or redness, nausea, and bad mouth odor. The sooner you can get your child to the hospital, the better.
Dental Abscesses Treatment Options
Your child’s physician will examine the condition and prescribe the right medication. Here are some of the treatment options that your doctor may consider.
- Drain the Abscess
Draining off the infection is one of the effective ways to treat an abscess. Your dentist will make an incision into the abscess and drain it off. The area is then irrigated or washed with saline. If there are dead tissues, debridement may be done to remove the tissues.
- Antibiotic Therapy
Sometimes draining abscesses may not work when local anesthetics fail to make the patient numb due to dental infection. In such cases, your dentist can resort to antibiotic therapy to reduce the infection, which will, in turn, make the local anesthetics work. Once the local anesthesia starts to have an effect on the patient, treatment can be carried out without any pain.
- Root Canal
Root canal entails removal of the pulp. The pulp consists of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues that help the tooth to grow. Your dentist will perform the root canal under local anesthesia.
- Tooth Extraction
If the damage is too big to be saved, the last option is usually to extract it. This will stop the pain and promote the healing process.
Can Kids With Baby Teeth Have A Tooth Abscess Emergency? is a feature post