I have had several questions from mothers about a small pimple like growth on the gum tissue under their child’s baby tooth. This is an abscessed tooth. The small pimple like growth is a gumboil. The gum tissue is usually red, swollen, and tender. The abscess can rupture spontaneously or when brushing the child’s teeth. It is the drainage site for infection when the decay in a baby tooth reaches the pulp tissue. This is the main symptom most children have with an abscessed baby tooth. This will usually require an antibiotic and and will require treatment by the dentist to resolve the problem.
Another symptom of this condition is pain, or tenderness. Most of the time this is noticeable when the child is eating and chewing something. The pain may keep the child up at night. Usually the best treatment for this symptom is childrens ibuprofen. Ibuprofen helps relieve the pain and also has an anti-inflammatory component to deal with the inflammation associated with the abscess.
The third symptom is swelling. The swelling is sometimes localized to the gum tissue at the site of the gumboil. Other times it may spread beyond that local area and the child may have a swollen jaw, or face. Ice packs can be placed over the area and the child given the previously mentioned medications, antibiotics and ibuprofen, to help control the swelling. A hot pack, or heating pad should never be place over the area because this can cause the infection to spread and to get worse.
The 3 symptoms of an abscessed baby tooth are: 1) a gumboil, or pimple like growth under the baby tooth; 2) pain, or discomfort in that area; and 3) swelling around the drainage site and/or in the face. Treatment consists of antibiotics to control the infection, ibuprofen for pain relief and inflammation control, ice packs can help with the swelling (this one is optional); and then the tooth needs dental procedures done to resolve the problem permanently. Once again, thank you for the e-mails and questions.