What should I do if my child has a toothache? As parents, probably one of our largest priorities would be to prevent or remove any pain our child is feeling. Dental pain of any kind would definitely fall under this umbrella. However, dental pain is probably a bit under-reported by children compared to an acute injury like bumps and scratches. Toothaches in children are a little different than the adult version as toothaches in baby teeth can come and go. So, unfortunately, by the time a child begins complaining about it, it may be pretty serious.
How to tell if your child has a toothache
Sometimes kids don’t complain about a toothache out of fear of having to go to the dentist (especially if they have had a tough tooth related experience in the past). Some common signs to look for include irritability and/or lethargy, poor appetite, stubbornness about brushing, or sudden/unusual dislike of cold foods or beverage you can suspect a toothache.
Brush and floss and rinse the mouth with water or salt water. Sometimes too much soda, juice or candy can trigger a toothache in a child with existing tooth decay. Getting acids and sugars off the teeth and out of the mouth can help soothe a tooth in trouble.
Give your child a saline solution to rinse their mouth every time they feel the pain. Mix a small glass of plain warm water (not hot) with a teaspoon of salt.
A cold pack pressed to the cheek also helps by reducing nerve responsiveness. If the pain is severe, over the counter pain relievers would also be a temporary solution.
While these at home techniques are effective in reducing discomfort in the very short term, a visit to the pediatric dentist is definitely in order.
The causes of a toothache
- Tooth decay – the cavities have reached through the enamel into the dentin inside which has many tubules that communicate directly to the nerve chamber.This causes discomfort and pain
- Erupting teeth – this can cause tenderness in the gums. If an emerging tooth is pushing against another tooth, one or the other may have to be removed.
- Chipped tooth/cracked tooth– this pain can be very severe, and it can come and go so your child might ignore it at first. Eventually, a cracked tooth progresses until the pain comes with every bite. At this point, the tooth usually has to be removed. Thankfully this is rare in all teeth but if it will occur it is usually in a baby tooth.
- Loose/missing fillings – This is sort of like having a cavity again as the dentin becomes exposed and food often packs into the hole where the filling fell out.
- Food stuck in between teeth – This can cause a wedging feeling or gum irritation if it is there long enough
As parents, we know you want to make your child feel better instantly. Try the at-home techniques to make your child feel better until you can see one of our pediatric dentists. And, remember, how you respond to a toothache can influence how your child will view his/her experience with dental care.
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.