If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know they’re not fun and can be seriously disruptive. Tooth pain can make daily activities miserable and affect sleep patterns, appetite, mood and ability to focus. Toothaches can be even tougher for kids, especially if they can’t identify or communicate exactly what’s going on. Here are a few things to look for if your child complains about tooth pain, along with some strategies for temporary pain relief and warning signs that mean you should call your pediatric dentist.
What Are the Signs of a Toothache in Children?
Sometimes when we have a toothache, it’s hard to identify what’s causing the pain, especially in younger children who may not always have the vocabulary to tell us what’s wrong. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Pain in the teeth or mouth
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drink
- Facial swelling
- A lump or abscess at the gumline
- General irritability, especially in younger children
What Causes a Toothache?
Sometimes a toothache simply comes from new teeth coming through. This is normal and temporary. But in other cases, a toothache lets us know that there are other problems that need to be addressed. Here are some of the main causes of tooth pain in children:
- Tooth decay or abscess.
- Gum inflammation.
- Teeth grinding, especially at night when your child may not be aware they’re doing it.
- Injuries from sports, play, biting something they shouldn’t or biting down the wrong way. Sometimes your child may not be aware of an injury until after symptoms emerge.
- Food or another object stuck in the teeth.
- Oral pain is sometimes a medical issue rather than a dental problem. Earaches and sinus infections can put pressure on the teeth and jaws and often feel like toothaches.
What Can I Do to Relieve Toothache Pain?
If your child has unexplained tooth pain or any of the symptoms mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist. While waiting to see your pediatric dentist, there are some simple and effective steps you can take to relieve pain.
- Rinse with warm saltwater. An old-fashioned salt rinse goes a long way toward temporarily relieving pain and reducing irritation.
- Give children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain.
- A cold compress can help relieve pain, especially if there’s swelling in the cheek or gums.
- Look for any food particles that may be causing irritation and remove with dental floss.
- We don’t recommend using over the counter numbing medicines with benzocaine because of potential side effects including a rare but serious blood disorder.
When Should I Call My Pediatric Dentist About a Toothache?
If your child has unexplained tooth pain, a visit to your pediatric dentist is always a good idea. Don’t wait too long to schedule an appointment since it’s important to rule out tooth decay or infection. Some other symptoms to get checked out with your dentist include:
- Swelling in the face
- Signs of an abscess, including swelling or an inflamed spot on the gums
- Tooth pain following an injury
- A cracked or chipped tooth
- Food or any object stuck between teeth that can’t be easily removed with dental floss
Toothache Trouble? Call Your Pediatric Dentist
At NOVA Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, top-notch preventive care is at the heart of our mission. Good oral hygiene and regular check-ups can go a long way in preventing toothaches by keeping teeth and gums healthy. But dental emergencies and tooth pain can happen even when children and families are doing everything right. Our dentists’ years of training and experience can help us quickly identify and treat whatever is at the root of your child’s toothache. If your child is experiencing tooth pain, make an appointment as soon as possible. Catching problems early almost always makes them easier to solve, so children can get back to being kids, pain-free.