1. Spontaneous Pain: If your child is waking up at night and crying about tooth pain, it is an infection. Your child may not complain and just avoid using the tooth when chewing. If the discomfort is triggered by hot, cold and sweets, the tooth might not be infected but is just sensitive.
2. Swelling: If there is gum swelling that looks red and angry, it is a sign of infection.
3. Dark Discoloration: If the tooth colour is not getting lighter, very likely there is inflammation process going on inside the tooth. After trauma to the tooth, your child should see a dentist periodically to closely monitor and make sure the baby tooth is not damaging the adult tooth.
4. Increased Mobility of Tooth: Front teeth exfoliate around ages 6-8 and back teeth exfoliate around ages 10-12. If the teeth are getting wiggly prematurely, this is a sign of infection.
5. Draining Fistula: When there is pus accumulated underneath the tooth, it can become a fistula. In many cases, this looks like a white pimple on the gum.
How to Treat an Infected Tooth
Antibiotics and Painkillers: Usually symptoms of infection are treated with antibiotics and painkillers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). These medication only treat symptoms and do not treat the cause. Your child needs further dental treatment to treat infection.
Infected Baby Tooth: If a baby tooth gets an infection, most likely the infected tooth needs to be extracted. This is because there is an adult tooth underneath the baby tooth and infection would damage the growing adult tooth.
Infected Adult Tooth: Usually adult teeth get root canal treatment. It is a procedure where infected pulp tissue is removed.
When to Go to Emergency
1. Difficulty Breathing and Swallowing
2. Fever that does not come down
3. Facial Swelling: one side of the face is visibly swollen compared to the other side.