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Abscessed tooth in children: Lifestyle factors, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention

A dental abscess is a pus-filled pocket around the tooth on the gums. Dental abscess in children is seen as a result of longstanding caries in the teeth or due to broken teeth.
 

Abscessed tooth in children: Lifestyle factors, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention RBA
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First Published Jul 8, 2024, 7:00 AM IST

Dental caries progresses in stages. Initially, it only dissolves the tooth structure, causing a chalky white appearance. This stage of caries is reversible. A pediatric dentist can prescribe home-care dental cream or fluoride to remineralize the carious tooth. When caries advance further, it causes cavity formation.

If these cavities are not filled, food debris can accumulate, causing caries to propagate further into the deeper layers of the tooth. The patient now experiences sharp pain when chewing food or eating cold food. When these symptoms are not treated, infections can spread past the roots of the tooth, leading to abscess formation.

An abscessed tooth in children can cause moderate to severe throbbing pain around the tooth. The gums around the tooth will appear red.The child experiences pain when chewing and hence avoids eating food. The child may experience pain when lying down, leading to disturbed sleep. If left untreated, the tooth can become loose and discoloured, or the pus may drain into the mouth, leading to a foul taste and odour.

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Abscessed tooth in children: Lifestyle factors, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention RBA

Due to longstanding infection, swollen and tender nodes can be found in the neck and under the jaw. When the infection spreads from the tooth to the jaw, ear, and neck, swelling appears on the face and neck, accompanied by fever. From this stage, the condition can transform into a serious, life-threatening one, causing difficulty breathing and death.

A root canal treatment with abscess drainage under appropriate antibiotic medications can successfully resolve the condition. If a swelling of the face, neck, or fever exists, prompt hospitalization is warranted. Hospital care includes intravenous antibiotic and analgesic administration followed by drainage of abscesses and tooth removal in advanced cases.

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Two main factors are responsible for the formation of caries: inappropriate brushing and consuming a cariogenic diet. A pediatric dentist can educate parents on the right type of brushing for their children. Parents must supervise or actively brush their children’s teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.

Abscessed tooth in children: Lifestyle factors, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention RBA

Sticky food, especially sweetened snacks, is the main cause of tooth decay in children. In very young children, improper bottle feeding can also result in early childhood caries. Regular visits to pediatric dentists can help parents prevent early childhood caries in their children.

-          Dr. Deepika Pai, Consultant Pediatric Dentist, KMC Hospital, Mangalore

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