Whether it’s a persistent dull ache or sharp occasional pain, a toothache can happen at any age, including childhood. Toothache in kids is quite common, but no parent wants to see their child in pain, especially if they aren’t sure what they can do to help. Here are some of the top reasons why your child may have a toothache, how to ease their pain, and how to ensure they get the appropriate treatment.
Just like adults, children can have dental pain for a variety of different reasons. Some of the main causes of toothache in children include:
Cavities. Most toothache in children is caused by tooth decay. This is where acid erodes a small area on the tooth, causing a hole called a cavity to develop. These cavities expose nerves and the pulp of the tooth, and when your child eats or drinks something very hot, cold, or sweet, this can irritate the pulp and nerves and cause pain.
Broken tooth. Kids tend to race around at a million miles per hour, not always paying a lot of attention to their surroundings. This makes accidents more likely, and these accidents can often end up with a broken tooth. Fractured teeth are particularly common in kids who are involved in sports.
Dental abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms on the gum around the teeth, usually near the root. This happens when bacteria gets into the root of the tooth, and infection has set in. Dental abscesses can be extremely painful and require antibiotics to treat.
Gum disease. Gum disease occurs when sticky, clear plaque that forms on the teeth isn’t brushed away and can start to spread onto the gums. This plaque contains bacteria that irritate and inflame the gums, causing pain, bleeding, and more.
Fortunately, your child doesn’t have to live with dental pain for long. There are things that you can do to help them at home.
Ask them about their pain. It can be helpful to try and understand what’s causing their toothache. Ask your child where the pain is and if they can describe it. This might help you to discover if it’s caused by a cavity, fracture, or something else, meaning when you contact your dentist at Colwick Pediatric Dentistry, you’ll be able to give them an idea of what they might be looking at.
Rinse with warm salt water. It doesn’t taste nice, and your child should never swallow it, but if they are old enough to rinse their mouth, get them to rinse with warm, salty water. Pop a teaspoon of ordinary table salt into a small cup of warm water and get them to swish it around their mouth for 30 seconds, twice each day. Salt water helps to destroy bacteria that could be causing dental pain.
Provide pain medication. It won’t deal with the underlying cause of your child’s toothache, but pain medications can at least ease your child’s discomfort until you can get to a dentist. Anti-inflammatory medications are particularly useful, just be sure to only administer the appropriate dose at the recommended frequency.
Use cold compresses. A cold compress can help to alleviate swelling associated with abscesses and broken teeth. If you don’t have a purpose-built compress, wrap some ice in a small cloth and hold it against the area for up to 15 minutes, or as long as it takes for the ice to melt.
Use warm compresses. If there isn’t any obvious swelling, a warm compress can provide some much-needed pain relief. Take care to ensure that your compress isn’t too hot and hold it against the area for up to 15 minutes at a time.
Contact your pediatric dentist. While there are numerous things you can do to help relieve your child’s dental pain, none of them will treat the underlying cause of their discomfort. For this reason, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your family/pediatric dentist as soon as you can so that they can perform an assessment of your child’s oral health, determine the cause of their pain and arrange the necessary treatment.
For more advice on what to do when your child has a toothache, visit Colwick Pediatric Dentistry at our office in Cleburne, Texas. You can call (817) 382-3029 today to schedule an appointment.