Toothaches in children are a common occurrence from early childhood to adolescence. They can result from normal oral development or be a sign of a dental problem. Pediatric dentist Dr. Jeff Holt and his team at Kids Dental in Plano, Carrollton, and the surrounding areas provide treatment for toothaches in children! Kids Dental pediatric dentists will evaluate toothaches, ongoing tooth, and jaw pain and keep your child on track for good oral health that lasts a lifetime. Learn more about your child’s dental health in the dental topics section.
If your child is complaining of a toothache or jaw pain, first ask if any trauma has occurred and check for any signs of injury, such as abrasions or cuts to the lips, tongue, or gums, swelling, bruising, or loose teeth. In some cases, dental trauma may present no symptoms, yet the pulp inside the tooth can still be damaged. If your child has experienced an injury and is complaining of tooth pain, a trip to the pediatric dentist to check for underlying damage is recommended.
If there is no sign of injury, no fever, and no swelling, the tooth pain is not likely an emergency, and a regular dental appointment can be made for evaluation.
What Can Cause Tooth Pain in Children?
When no dental trauma has occurred, start by asking questions. Find out how long the tooth has been hurting, and ask your child to describe the pain and point out the affected area. Examine the mouth for obvious signs of tooth decay, tooth eruption, or something lodged in the teeth.
Common causes of tooth pain in children include:
- Dental cavities (caries): Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of childhood toothaches or dental pain.
- Tooth eruption: New teeth coming in can cause pain as they break through the gums or push the primary teeth out. An eruption can also put pressure on the adjacent nerves.
- Broken tooth: A tooth can break if weakened by decay or from chewing hard items, such as ice or hard candy.
- Tooth sensitivity: Sinus problems, fillings, or chips/cracks in teeth from misalignment or grinding can result in teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold.
- Brushing or flossing improperly: Brushing or flossing too aggressively can wear down tooth enamel or injure the gums which may result in tooth pain or sensitivity.
- Infected or impacted wisdom tooth: An abscessed tooth or impacted tooth that cannot erupt properly can create a great deal of discomfort, as well as swelling.
- Lodged food: Pressure from food stuck in the teeth or in between the teeth and gums can cause pain in the gum line or roots.
- Loose filling: Previous dental work can become loose, especially when eating sticky or hard foods like candy.
- Gum disease: Gingivitis can result in oral pain, especially when left untreated.
What Should I Do for My Child’s Toothache?
Floss: If you are not able to discover an obvious reason for your child’s tooth pain, help your child floss around the affected area to remove any food particles that may be contributing to the toothache. Be gentle, as the gums could be sensitive.
Rinse: Using a salt water rinse of ½ teaspoon of salt with one cup of water, have your child slowly swish or hold the water in his/her mouth over the bothersome tooth for about 30 seconds. This will eliminate bacteria and promote healing.
Cold compress: Place an ice pack (store-bought or ice placed in a cloth) on your child’s outer cheek near the painful area. Remove frequently (every 2-3 minutes) to ensure the cheek does not get injured if using ice. Placing a cloth between the cheek and compress can also protect the face.
Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as Tylenol or Advil, can help alleviate tooth pain until you can get to your pediatric dentist appointment. Never put aspirin on the tooth or gums as it can damage the soft tissue, as well as lead to Reye’s syndrome which can be fatal.
Dental visit: Even if your child’s toothache subsides after these measures, a dental visit is often recommended to determine the cause of the tooth pain.
Seek immediate medical attention if your child’s toothache is accompanied by:
- Difficulty breathing
- Red streaks or pus drainage from the affected area
- Increase pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the area
If the cause of the tooth pain is a cavity or other dental problem, Kids Dental offers experienced, gentle, kid-friendly pediatric dental care for those in the Plano, Carrollton, and surrounding metropolitan area. We would love the opportunity to be your dental home and to help ensure your family’s healthy smiles for years to come.