Are your child’s teeth hurting? While tooth pain is relatively normal in children, it can also mean there is a larger issue at hand.
A pediatric dentist should always evaluate any persistent tooth pain, as it can indicate a problem that will only increase in severity if left untreated. Learn more about what to do if your child experiences tooth pain below.
What to Look For in Tooth Pain
If your child doesn’t have a fever or facial swelling, then your child’s tooth pain is generally not an emergency. Have your child to show you where the pain is and try to find out approximately how long the tooth has been hurting.
Take a look inside your child’s mouth. If there is no sign of tooth decay, ask your child about possible recent injuries. A blow to a tooth or the jaw might not have resulted in any lasting pain to the lips or tongue, but may have caused damage to the tooth or nerve. Check for any obvious signs of damage to the inside of the lips and tongue that can reveal signs of trauma—such as minor cuts, scrapes and bruises. Even if everything appears normal, the pulp tissue inside the tooth can be damaged or even die from trauma.
Causes of Child Tooth Pain
Here are the most common causes of tooth pain in children:
- Dental Decay. Cavities often lead to pain and are quite common in children.
- New Teeth. As children lose their baby teeth, the growth of new teeth can cause pain as the new teeth put pressure on nerves.
- Sinus Problems. Just like adults, children who have sinus issues often have tooth sensitivity.
- Fillings. Children with silver amalgam fillings can have sensitive to hot and cold food and drinks.
- Cracks and Chips. Children with misaligned teeth or a grinding habit can develop hairline cracks and chips, resulting in sensitivity when eating or drinking.
- Improper Brushing. Children can often brush too aggressively, wearing down the tooth enamel and gums, causing bruising and cuts in the gums as well as tooth sensitivity.
- Diet. Sometimes your child’s tooth pain can result from something they ate recently. Did they have any hard, acidic, or overly-sweet food recently? Food that is too hot or too cold can also cause pain.
Steps to Take to Reduce Tooth Pain
If you don’t see anything unusual, like apparent swelling or an obvious cavity, help your child floss on both sides of the hurting tooth. This may dislodge a piece of food that might have been lodged between the teeth and causing pressure on a nerve. If the discomfort persists, take these steps to try and relieve your child’s pain until you can get to the dentist:
- Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given to children in a dose appropriate for their age and weight.
- Cold Compress: Apply an ice pack to the outside of the jaw, especially if swelling is present, adjacent to the area of the pain. Hold the ice pack on and then off for a couple minutes at a time, so as not to burn the cheeks with the ice.
- Salt Water Wash: Have your child rinse with a warm salt-water solution, mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water. Have your child swish or hold the salt water over the affected area.
What NOT To Do If Your Child Has Tooth Pain
Never rub aspirin or another painkiller on your child’s teeth or gums directly. The acid in aspirin can result in burns and end up creating more pain rather than reducing it. Additionally, giving aspirin to young children can even lead to a fatal disease known as Reye’s syndrome.
Visit Your Dentist If Your Child has Tooth Pain
If your child is experiencing severely painful throbbing, fatigue, or fever you should contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
Even if you successfully relieve the tooth pain, you should see your pediatric dentist as soon as possible—today’s minor tooth pain can become tomorrow’s agonizing abscess. If you are in the Gainesville, Florida area and are looking for experienced pediatric dentists, visit Park Avenue Dental. Our team cares about children and their oral health wellbeing. Call us today to schedule an appointment!