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Family's Campus - Parents of children aged 6 or below - Oral problems - Tooth abscess

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Tooth abscess

Tooth abscess is a swelling due to collection of pus that resulted from bacterial infection of oral tissues.
Photograph showing an abscess near a tooth


  • Tooth decay:
    Tooth decay is the main cause of tooth abscess for children. When tooth decay is deep down to the centre of the tooth (the pulp), bacteria can infect the pulpal tissue and the pulp becomes dead. Infection may then spread out from the root of the tooth and to the supporting tissues around the tooth, leading to inflammation and accumulation of pus, and thus formation of a tooth abscess.
  • Other causes:
    Severe gum disease, cracked tooth, tooth wear, etc., may also result in the formation of tooth abscess. However, they usually occur in adults.


If the tooth with abscess is not treated early and appropriately, bacterial infection may spread to the surrounding tissues like the supporting bone, gum, etc., and may result in severe consequences.


If a tooth abscess is found in the mouth, you should ask your parents to bring you to see a dentist immediately to have a check-up and receive treatments. Usually, the dentist needs to:
  • drain out the pus in order to reduce the inflammation
  • find out the cause of the tooth abscess
    • If it is due to a severely decayed tooth, it may need endodontic treatment to clean and fill the root canals, and restoration of the tooth crown.
    • If the tooth is too badly damaged, it may need extraction instead.


Formation of a tooth abscess indicates that oral disease has already reached a very serious stage. Hence, one should:
  • have regular dental check-up, such that oral diseases can be identified and treated at early stages;
  • adopt a proper oral care habit which includes brushing the teeth thoroughly twice daily, using floss or interdental brush to clean adjacent tooth surfaces; and
  • decrease the frequency of snacking to prevent tooth decay.
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