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Around 43 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 have cavities in a given year.

While this is an improvement over recent years, it’s still a major problem. Even if you encourage your child to practice good oral hygiene, kids love candy.

It’s important to instill good habits in your child from an early age and make sure they follow through with their oral hygiene routine. Even if you try your best, cavities and other dental problems happen to the best of us.

If your child complains of a toothache, you might not know what to do. Keep reading to learn more about toothaches and what to do if your child has one.

How to Know if Your Child Has a Toothache

If your child is older, they should be able to tell you when their tooth hurts. But with younger children or those who are afraid of the dentist, it can be harder to tell.

If your child complains of pain in the tooth, ask for more specific information. Tooth pain can be constant or throbbing and is often sharp. For some children, the pain only occurs when the tooth receives pressure.

Symptoms that can accompany tooth pain in children and can be signs of a toothache in younger children who can’t communicate as clearly include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swelling in the gums around the tooth
  • Drainage from the tooth that tastes bad

If these symptoms are present, your child’s toothache is probably a sign of an infected tooth and your child could be in considerable pain. If you notice any of the above signs, a trip to the dentist as soon as possible is recommended.

What Might Be Causing Your Child’s Toothache

While it’s impossible to diagnose your child over the internet, we understand that knowing some of the common causes of toothache might relieve some of your anxiety before you can make it to the office.

Children are notorious for getting cavities, so if your child hasn’t been in for a cleaning and examination recently, a cavity or tooth decay is a likely cause.

Here are some other causes of pain in or around your teeth:

  • An abscessed or infected tooth
  • Fractured tooth
  • Damaged filling
  • Pain from repetitive motions like teeth grinding or gum chewing
  • Gum infection

While it’s certainly possible that the cause of your child’s toothache is benign and requires little or no treatment, it’s also possible that a more serious condition is the cause of the pain. We never want to take chances with our children’s health, especially if they are uncomfortable or in pain.

What to Do if Your Child Has a Toothache

If your child has a toothache, you should call your child’s dentist right away.

Your dentist will be especially concerned if the toothache lasts longer than a day or two and will want to see your child right away. Be sure to tell the dentist if your child’s tooth pain is severe, as this may indicate a more serious cause.

If your child has any of the following signs, you should contact your dentist right away as your child may need immediate medical treatment:

  • Pain when opening the mouth
  • Earache
  • Fever

These symptoms may indicate that a dental infection is spreading to other parts of the face and skull or even the bloodstream. While an infection of this nature is unlikely, it’s important to keep a close eye on your child until you can see a dentist.

Until your dentist’s appointment, you can do your best to keep your child comfortable. It would be advisable to avoid feeding your child any foods that would further irritate the tooth or surrounding gums.

You should follow the advice of your child’s dentist and pediatrician regarding pain management strategies including children’s pain-relieving medications. If you do give your child Tylenol, remember that the medicine will mask a fever, so you should keep an eye out for any other signs of a worsening condition.

What to Expect at the Dentist

When your child goes to see the dentist, he will conduct a physical exam and ask about your child’s medical history.

He will ask your child questions about his toothache ranging from where the pain is to how badly it hurts as well as what makes the pain better and worse. You can expect the dentist to check your child thoroughly and examine their teeth, mouth, jaws, gums, throat, tongue, sinuses, nose, ears, and neck.

He may take x-rays and may conduct other tests as necessary to determine the cause of the toothache. The treatment prescribed for your child will vary depending on the cause of the toothache but range from filling a cavity to prescribing antibiotics.

Preventing Toothaches

If your child does end up taking a trip to the dentist for tooth pain, keep in mind that prevention is worth more than a cure.

If the cause of your child’s toothache is tooth decay, you can prevent further issues by encouraging him to practice good oral hygiene. Here are some things you can do to keep your child’s teeth in top shape:

  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Rinsing once or twice daily with antiseptic mouthwash
  • Visiting the dentist every 6 months for a cleaning
  • Watching sugar intake
  • Asking about sealants and fluoride applications

Contact Us Today

If your child complains of a toothache or you notice any of the toothache related signs we discussed above, you should contact us right away.

It’s important to get your child in to see the dentist as soon as possible. Contact us with any questions and to schedule your child to be seen in the office.