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An abscessed tooth is a tooth that has a pocket of pus in the tissues around it. Pus forms when the body tries to fight an infection caused by bacteria. If the pus cannot drain, it forms an abscess. An abscessed tooth can cause red, swollen gums and throbbing pain, especially when your child chews. Your child may have a bad taste in his or her mouth and a fever, and your child's jaw may swell.
Damage to the tooth, untreated tooth decay, or gum disease can cause an abscessed tooth.
An abscessed tooth needs to be treated by a dental professional right away. If it is not treated, the infection could spread to other parts of your child's body. A dentist will give your child antibiotics to stop the infection. He or she may make a hole in the tooth or cut open (lance) the abscess inside your child's mouth so that the infection can drain, which should relieve your child's pain. Your child may need to have a root canal treatment, which tries to save the tooth by taking out the infected pulp and replacing it with a healing medicine and/or a filling. If these treatments do not work, the dentist may have to remove the tooth.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: July 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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