First, make sure it’s a toothache. Depending on how well your child can communicate, he or she may actually have sore gums or a bitten tongue. Quite often a toothache can also be caused by emerging teeth.
Tooth decay can be another reason for a child’s toothache, even a very young child. If a child loses a primary tooth before it is ready to come out, this can cause a tooth to hurt as well, particularly if the tooth is wiggled or pulled too hard.
One of the most frequent causes of a child’s toothache, which tends to be overlooked, is a piece of food stuck between two teeth. This kind of irritation can cause a child considerable discomfort. When your child complains of an aching tooth, the first thing you should do is to look inside their mouth and examine the area where it hurts. Try to see if any food particles are lodged there. If so, help your child use dental floss to gently remove any bits of food you see. Look for a chipped tooth or a filling that might be loose or missing, as these can be other causes of a child’s toothache.
Plain, warm water can help relieve a child’s toothache, especially if tooth enamel is cracked. Give your child a glass of warm water to rinse their mouth before spitting it back out. Have them rinse again whenever the tooth begins to hurt. A teaspoon of table salt mixed in a glassful of warm water can soothe irritated and swollen gums as well. However, some toothaches actually feel better using cold water instead of warm. Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the outside of the cheek may help, too.
Avoid feeding your child salty or hot foods, as they can irritate an already painful tooth even more. Extremely cold foods can have the same effect. Until your child feels better, consuming only soft foods and liquids at room temperature is best. Biting down too hard while chewing, or eating sugary snacks and drinking fruit juices can irritate the area if a cavity is the problem. You should also encourage your child to keep their jaw relaxed so that their upper and lower teeth do not touch. This prevents placing pressure on the sensitive tooth.
Distracting your child from the pain might sound too simple, but it often works. Take your child’s mind off the pain by reading to them or allowing them to watch a favorite movie or play a favorite game.
Over the counter pain relievers can help ease the discomfort of a toothache, but make sure you give the correct dosage, according to the instructions on the bottle. Medication for children should be administered according to age and weight. The use of products containing aspirin put children at risk for developing Reye’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that primarily attacks the nervous system of children and teens so do not give your child aspirin for pain.
These remedies can help keep the pain manageable until you can schedule your child to see a dentist. Signs to look for are: a brown cavity that is visible in the painful tooth, a red or yellow lump present at the gum line of the painful tooth, or if the toothache does not go away within 12-24 hours.
If your child looks or acts very sick you need to contact your dentist or doctor immediately. Also, check for fever and swelling in their face as well as severe pain. Sometimes you might be able to administer some over the counter medicine for tooth pain, but if it is persistent after 2 hours of taking the medicine, you need to contact your dentist or doctor right away.
Make sure to schedule regular dental checkups for your child and supervise your child’s tooth brushing routine to prevent cavities. Serve your child a well-balanced diet of tooth friendly foods and limit those foods that can cause tooth decay. You can also help to prevent sports injuries to your child’s teeth by having your child wear a mouth guard.