Treatments for Dentoalveolar Infections in Children

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The physicians and care team at Boston Children's Hospital specialize in innovative, family-centered care. From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's needs. 

How are dentoveolar infections treated?

There are a few ways to treat these kinds of infections. How your child is treated depends on cause of infection and how quickly it progresses. 

Infection caused by an cavity or fracture in the tooth

  • The first step in treating a dentoalveolar infection is to drain the infection. This can sometimes be done through a root canal—a procedure that removes infected nerve from inside the tooth. 
  • A root canal can sometimes save the affected tooth; other times it will need to be taken out.
  • After the tooth has been drained or taken out, we will most likely prescribe a course of antibiotics to ensure that the bacteria that caused the infection have not spread to other areas in your child's mouth. 
  • If your child's infection is severe, he or she may need to stay in the hospital for a few days to receive Intravenous antibiotics. 

Infection caused by an impacted tooth

Impacted teeth can be partly covered by gum tissue. Once food and bacteria enter the space between the tooth and gum tissue, an infection forms.

Antibiotics will take care of the infection, but the tooth ultimately has to be removed. The surgeon will make an incision of the gum covering the tooth, remove a small portion of the bone and remove the tooth. Sutures (stitches) will hold the gum together once the tooth has been removed.


How can we prevent future infections?

The best way to prevent a dentoalveolar infection is to take care of your child's teeth and encourage good dental hygiene. If you know your child has an impacted tooth, an evaluation by an orthodontist may be necessary. 

Preventing tooth decay and cavities involves five simple steps:

  • Brush your child's teeth and tongue twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, or supervise them brushing their teeth.
  • Floss your child's teeth daily after the age of 2.
  • Make sure your child eats a well-balanced diet and limit sugary snacks.
  • Consult your child's physician or dentist about the supplemental use of fluoride and/or dental sealants.
  • Schedule routine dental cleanings and examinations for your child ‘s teeth every six months.

What else can we do at home?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the following to ensure your child eats correctly to maintain a healthy body and teeth: 

  • Ask your child's pediatric dentist to help you assess your child's diet.
  • Shop smart. Don't routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks.
  • Buy fun foods just for special times.
  • Limit the number of snacks and choose nutritious snacks.
  • Provide a balanced diet, and save foods with sugar or starch for mealtimes.
  • Do not put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice.
  • If your child chews gum or sips soda, choose those without sugar.

Coping and support

Many children have had these kinds of infections and have been down this path before. We've helped them, and we can help you, too. 

There are lots of resources available for your family—within Boston Children's, in the outside community and online. 

Boston Children's resources for families:

Patient education: From the very first visit, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have. 

Outside resources:

The following websites provide additional information about oral health care and hygiene. The sites also include information and educational activities for kids.


Questions about our Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery? Download this PDF for an overview of the department's work as well as patient stories and contact information.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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