Dental abscesses usually appear as small pimples or swelling along the gum tissues inside of the mouth. The abscess may come and go, drain, or leave a bad taste in the mouth. Bacteria from the infection come from inside of the tooth…deep inside the nerve chamber, when a tooth has experienced trauma or a deep cavity.
Your dentist can confirm the abscess as well as determine the extent of the infection by examining the area and taking an x-ray of the tooth. If the infection is extremely severe, it may be necessary to prescribe an antibiotic before any treatment is completed. This will cause the bulk of the infection to decrease long enough for treatment to be performed.
An abscessed tooth will either need to have a root canal or be removed. In the majority of cases, root canal therapy is the choice method of treatment. This allows the tooth to last for several more years and prevents the need for tooth replacement. During a root canal, the damaged portion of the tooth is removed. Damaged nerve tissue is also removed, and the nerve chamber is cleaned, medicated, and sealed off permanently. The tooth is then prepped for a full coverage crown, which prevents the non-vital tooth from chipping away.
Extractions are usually only necessary if the infection is too severe for the tooth to be restored. If the infection is addressed as early as possible, this can be avoided.
Sometimes abscessed teeth can also cause pain, but not always. If you’re experiencing pain from an abscess, ask your dentist about pain relief until your treatment can be completed.
Posted on behalf of Wayne G. Suway, DDS, MAGD
If your child has a visible abscess or severe toothache, your dentist will likely recommend treating the tooth with a pulpotomy. Pulpotomies are the pediatric equivalent to root canal therapy – but more straightforward and simpler to perform. By treating the tooth, it can be saved and kept in place until it’s closer for the tooth to exfoliate (fall out) naturally.
During a pulpotomy, the area of decay is removed, as well as the infected nerve tissue inside the inner chamber of the tooth. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and medicated, and sealed off to prevent debris from entering back into it. The roots of the tooth are left alone to allow for natural absorption as the child ages. Once completed, a temporary crown is placed over the tooth to protect it for several more years.
Losing a tooth prematurely can cause a variety of complications that involve the teeth surrounding it. Typically, other teeth will drift into the space and fail to leave room for developing adult teeth to erupt properly. The end result is an impacted adult tooth and the need for orthodontic treatment to correct the tooth spacing and patterns. Saving the tooth for several more years can delay the need for orthodontic treatment.
Don’t put your child’s pulpotomy treatment off. Failing to remove the area of infection can allow it to spread to other areas of the mouth and face. In rare circumstances it can even lead to hospitalization. Treating the tooth as early as possible is the best way to keep the cost of care down, and ensure the safety and health of your child.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
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