Abscesses In Toddler Teeth: When A Chipped Tooth Takes A Turn For The Worse

Dentist Articles

If your toddler has an accident and chips his or her tooth, you might wonder about how to repair the damage or if you need to seek emergency dental services. Even if the chips seems minor, you should always see a dentist as soon as possible, just to make sure the crack hasn't compromised the tooth. If you are lucky, the chip won't expose the tooth to greater infection but will only affect the cosmetic appearance of your young child's smile. However, you should carefully watch and clean the chipped tooth, as even minor chips can occasionally lead to an abscess.

Why do some chipped teeth abscess?

Even though the most common cause of a toddler tooth abscess is poor dental hygiene and the resulting infection, intense trauma to the tooth can also result in infection. Bacteria are more easily able to invade the tooth from the site of the chip, especially if the chip leaves tiny cracks in the enamel that expose the dentin. An abscess is an acute infection that spreads through the tooth and eventually starts to degrade the gums and jawbone. If left unchecked, the infection can spread to the nasal passages and the brain. 

Normally, to prevent infection from a chipped tooth, the dentist would repair the area with a filling. However, for young toddler, fillings can be difficult, and since abscesses from seemingly cosmetic chips are rare, dentists may opt to simply wait for the young tooth to fall out, or for the child to wait a few years before getting it filled, to make it easier for your child to sit still and stay calm during the procedure.

What are the signs of an abscess?

Unfortunately, early signs of an abscess can be hard to catch in young children, as they may not be verbal enough to communicate pain. Abscesses can develop slowly, and the pain can be intermittent, so your child may show no real outside signs that anything is wrong. However, there are some things you can watch for:

  • Avoiding biting or chewing with a certain part of the mouth. For example, if the front top tooth is chipped, does your child bite a cracker to the side instead?
  • Loss of appetite. Pain in the mouth may cause a significant change in your child's eating habits. They might also suddenly stop enjoying foods they liked before, like ice cream or apple slices, as the cold or texture would intensify an already sensitive tooth.
  • Visible signs of tooth death or decay. A healthy, living chipped tooth will stay relatively creamy in color, similar to its fellows. However, a tooth dying of infection may start to turn gray and the gums may look red or irritated around the tooth.
  • Resistance to pulling a shirt over the head or increased refusal to normal oral hygiene routines. Pulling a shirt over the head can put temporary pressure on the mouth as your child pulls it over his or her head, increasing pain.

If you notice any of these signs, inspect your child's mouth for areas of inflammation. Pus starts to fills the area around the root of the tooth, and these areas can show up above the tooth or behind it as the pressure builds. White or brown spots on the gums above the tooth indicate the need for dental attention. 

Once the infection starts to build in earnest, the signs will be easier to spot. Facial swelling is an indicator as the infection starts to spread from the tooth to surrounding tissues. Abscesses may begin to drain into the mouth from the gums. Your child will have a high fever as the body starts to fight the infection, which is no longer safely contained in the tooth. Once the abscess reaches this stage, it should be treated as a dental and medical emergency. Strong antibiotics are needed to fight the infection, and your dentist will assess whether or not the tooth can be spared. Sometimes, the tooth will need to be pulled. 

If you think your child has an abscess, contact a local dentist, such as those at Dental Associates PC, as soon as possible. 


11 January 2016

All About Full and Partial Dentures

My name is Cicely Davenport and if you need to get dentures, but you have questions about them, I invite you to read my blog to learn the answers. I too needed to get dentures but I wanted to find out everything I could about them before I committed. I read all about full dentures and partial dentures, and the difference between each of the two kinds. I went ahead and got a full set of dentures and I really like how they look and feel. I want to help others who are also thinking about dentures and you can learn a lot about them when you read my blog.