Abscess - deciduous tooth


An abscess in a baby especially when it is acute is a painful problem for a child. Like in adult teeth an acute abscess will likely need an emergency assessment by and dentist both to relieve the symptoms and to treat the cause.

There are a number of other less common causes of swelling in the gum area. CURRENTLY OUCH IS NOT TRAINED on these other causes at present so please contact a dentist for a full diagnosis.


  • Pain - well localised to a tooth, made worse by any pressure on the tooth
  • Tenderness and/or swelling in the gum around the root of the tooth
  • Swollen tender lymph glands - this is a sign that the infection is increasing
  • Facial swelling - in more severe case there can be significant swelling and an associated fever if left unchecked this infection can become a medical emergency.

Home care advice

A dental abscess in its early stages may be managed with pain killers and hygiene measures and sometimes the immune system will keep the abscess under control until you can see a dentist. However if it gets more serious then it is likely to need urgent professional attention. Any uncontrolled swelling especially when heading towards the neck and throat needs to be URGENTLY treated at an A&E department.

  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol in child suspensions. Please follow instructions and avoid if contraindicated for any underlying medical reasons.
  • Hot salty rinses to clean the area and encourage any drainage of pus that maybe occurring.
  • Gels that anaesthetise (numb) the area. They usually contain either Benzocaine or lidocaine .
  • Applying a cold compress may reduce swelling
  • Keep hydrated and rested to maintain a good immune response
  • Natural remedies may offer some relief such as Clove Oil which contains eugenol - a natural anaesthetic and antiseptic.
  • Oral Antibiotics - Any swelling which increases or does not respond to local measures will require a prescription for an antibiotic such as Amoxycillin (IF NO ALLERGY), Clarithromycin or Metronidazole.
  • IV Antibiotics - in a hospital environment if swelling keeps spreading as mentioned above.

Once lockdown is lifted the tooth will definitely need treatment from a dentist. The dentist will decide whether the tooth can be saved through a treatment option called pulpotomy or pulpectomy, otherwise they may recommend extraction of the tooth.

Written by Andrew Bain BDS MJDF (RCS Eng)
May 11, 2020