Gum Abscess in Children

Gum Abscess in Children: What Parents Need To Know

An abscess is a localized infection that can occur anywhere in the body and often appears as a swelling with pus. Abscesses occur as part of your immune system's attempt to fight the infection. Imagine you're sharing a bowl of popcorn with your child on movie night, and a popcorn hull gets lodged between their tooth and gum tissue. If it isn't removed, the gum could become infected and form an abscess.

Gum Abscess Symptoms

When a child develops a gum abscess, they may experience pain in the affected part of the gum tissue due to the pressure of the trapped pus. This pain can extend to the ear, neck, and jaw and worsen when lying down. The abscess can cause redness or swelling in the face, and the gums may look shiny, swollen, and red. Your child may also complain of a bad taste in their mouth, or you may notice that their breath smells bad.

Treatments for Gum Abscesses

If you think your child has a gum abscess, take them to a dentist right away. A gum abscess doesn't go away on its own, and if it is not treated, an abscess can damage the surrounding teeth and bones. The infection can even spread beyond the gums, which may lead to more serious health problems.

Gum abscess treatment involves eliminating the cause of the infection and draining the buildup of pus. If an object is trapped between the teeth and gums, the dentist will carefully remove it. The pus can be drained through the gum pocket (the space between the teeth and gums) or an incision in the gum tissue. Usually, this procedure is carried out under local anesthesia, which means that your child will be awake, but the affected areas of their mouth will be numb.

Your child will feel better once the abscess has been treated. They may be prescribed medications to help with any lingering pain. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if the infection is severe.

Preventing a Gum Abscess in Children

Regular brushing and flossing can help keep a painful gum abscess away. Children's teeth should be brushed twice a day (morning and night), starting as soon as their first tooth erupts. Parents should help children clean between their teeth with dental floss once a day when their tooth surfaces begin to touch each other.

While young children may be eager to clean their teeth independently, they may not be able to brush by themselves until they're six to eight years old. If your child is old enough to start brushing alone, inspect their teeth afterward to ensure they're not missing any areas.

Regular visits to a dentist will also help keep your child's gums and teeth healthy. Your child can have their first dental visit when they get their first tooth. After that, children should get dental checkups every six months.

A gum abscess can be painful for both children and adults. If your child shows signs of discomfort around their gums, don't delay taking them to the dentist. It could be a gum abscess that requires treatment from your family dentist.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.