How are dental abscesses treated? (perhaps TMI)

My daughter, Moon Unit had a little bump on her gum, a bit above one of her baby teeth, that would pop up, get red, then disappear. This occurred over a period of several months. At a consult with an orthodontist, he said “oh, that’s an abscess”. So we trotted her off to the regular dentist yesterday, diagnosis confirmed, treatment: yank the baby tooth.

Persuaded via invocation of Santa and the Tooth Fairy - extracted teeth are worth big $$ chez Zappa, my daughter apparently has teeth made of crumbling chalk so this is not her first extraction - and a hefty dose of nitrous oxide (turns out my daughter is a happy drunk, and looks forward to her next experience with nitrous :eek: ) the tooth was yanked and cleaned up. No damage to the permanent tooth, as far as we can tell.

Obviously with a baby tooth, it’s not a huge deal to yank them. Maybe a space maintainer will be needed to keep the other teeth from crowding the spot - she had one after her other extraction. But it’s a bigger deal to yank an adult tooth.

What if anything can a dentist do for an abscessed permanent tooth? Can they try to clean out the infection and save the tooth? or is it pretty much toast at that point?

standard disclaimer: not seeking medical advice; nobody in my family has an abscessed tooth, I’m just curious in general.

Dreaded Root Canal Time: They drill up into your tooth and clean out the absess, then put a filling in the tooth.

And if that doesn’t work, then it’s pull back the gum and drill out the jaw time.

I don’t know how tooth abscesses work, but I had one for which I got a root canal. It recurred and I was sent to an oral surgeon who performed the above operation. Essentially there was infection in the bone below the tooth and the surgeon somehow folded back the gum and drilled out the spot where the infection was. Believe it or not it was just bliss because that infection was the worst pain I ever had by a long shot.

Urg. I mean, I knew it had to be something like this. Still, I’ll try not to dwell on the imagery ::barf smiley:: But please tell me you got novocaine and/or horse tranks and/or Moon Unit Moonshine [sup]TM[/sup] or something :slight_smile:

Heh! Here’s TMI for you!

My son got an abcess in one of his baby teeth. He swelled up alarmingly late one night, and the next morning we went right away - there were no white spots…

The dentist drilled out the tooth as I held boy’s hand and watched. A MOUTHFUL of the stinkiest pus SQUIRTED out! It was the grossest thing I have ever seen, but instant relief for boy.

Unfortunately though we had him on antibiotics for weeks, the damn thing would not heal and kept draining. At one point the dentist thought it might be OK, so he capped the tooth with a rubbery seal to test the theory. It took two days this time but up he puffed. The dentist had showed me how to flick the seal out, so I did and again, Blurrk!

So the tooth was yanked and a space holder inserted.

My father had abcesses in his adult teeth and there was always a big battle to save the tooth, so it seems that yanking is left as the last option if that’s what you want.

Aside from the draining one might well also be prescribed an antibiotic.

Dental abcesses are treated like other abcesses.

If small, try antibiotic and pain medicine.
If bigger or easy to access, get the pus out with a needle or scalpel.
If comes back often in the same place, might need to take more drastic actions (yank the tooth, etc.)