As a parent, you may feel helpless and unsure of what to do when your child has a toothache. Tooth pain is the result of inflammation of the area inside the tooth that has tissues and nerves, called the pulp, and is usually caused by dental injury or dental caries. It can be challenging to pinpoint its exact location, but be gentle and remain calm when examining your child’s mouth to reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing.
If you are having difficulty finding the problem area, here are some steps you can take to determine the cause and alleviate the pain:
Identify the cause
Depending on your child’s level of communication, complaints of tooth pain may actually just be a bitten tongue or sore gums caused by emerging teeth. Another common cause of toothaches is food lodged between two teeth. We recommend flossing first to remove any food particles that may be causing the discomfort. If you rule out lodged food as the cause of the pain, it’s likely that your child has a cavity or another, more serious dental problem.
Alleviate the pain
Try giving your child a glass of warm water, plain or mixed with a teaspoon of salt, to help soothe swollen or irritated gums. Not all toothaches will be soothed with warmth, however, so if this does not ease the pain, try cold water or an icepack outside of the cheek. If pain persists, you can administer a dose of over-the-counter pain reliever, but check instructions for the appropriate dosage based on age, height and weight. Never give your child aspirin or put it directly on their tooth or gums under any circumstance, as it puts them at risk for soft tissue damage, and in some cases may result in a fatal disease known as Reye’s syndrome.
Contact your pediatric dentist
These are only temporary solutions; so if your child’s toothache persists for more than 12 hours, contact your pediatric dentist and schedule an appointment.
To help prevent the occurrence of a toothache, monitor your child’s brushing routine and continue to schedule regular dental appointments to reduce the risk of additional cavities.