It’s inevitable—almost every child will experience a toothache at some point. Unlike when adults have a toothache, however, young children can’t articulate which tooth is hurting them, nor understand that the pain is usually temporary. Crying and discomfort are common, and a child’s toothache can often happen when you least expect it, like on vacation or at a formal function. When it happens, be prepared to treat a toothache with some basic knowledge and tips in this article.

What Causes Toothaches?

Toothaches can happen for many reasons, but with children, there are a few common culprits. These causes include emerging new teeth, poor dental hygiene leading to decay or food stuck between the teeth, and chipped or cracked teeth. New teeth especially can cause discomfort in young children, even after their initial teething, and brushing is important to keep teeth healthy and free of debris that can cause pain.

An infection can also cause a toothache in children, and is suspected if a kid’s toothache doesn’t go away within 36 hours. Sometimes it may appear that the toothache can cause fever, but fever is usually a common concurrent symptom of a tooth infection. If your child’s toothache persists for more than a day, schedule an appointment with their children’s family dentistry clinic.

What To Do If Your Child Appears To Have a Toothache

It’s important to keep your child calm and explain that the pain will go away eventually. There are several home remedies you can try to alleviate the pain, but these are temporary fixes at best. It’s always better for a child’s toothache to be treated by a dentist as toothaches can sometimes be symptoms of underlying problems that only their pediatric dentist can spot. While waiting for your appointment, however, you can try some these treatments:

-First and foremost, ask your child where it hurts. If your child can communicate where the pain is, it will help you ascertain if the toothache is caused by something simple—like food between the teeth—or something more severe—like a chipped tooth. You can then decide on the appropriate course of action.

-Mix one teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water and have your child rinse their mouth with it. The salt kills bacteria and reduces inflammation around the affected tooth.

-Make a cold compress with ice in a plastic sandwich bag and have your child hold it against the tooth that is causing them pain. Or, if they are too young, gently hold it in place for them. The ice pack can stay in place 15 minutes at a time.

-Over the counter pain medications like children’s Tylenol or ibuprofen can help if pain is persistent and inhibits sleep. Check with your child’s doctor that they can safely take certain medications, and always stick to pediatrician-approved doses.

What Will A Dentist Do For My Child’s Toothache?

If your child is experiencing severe or lasting symptoms, make an appointment with their pediatric dentist immediately. During their visit, their dentist will treat the pain and discomfort effectively while examining your child’s mouth for a visible cause of pain. If there are none, they may employ the use of an x-ray camera to examine the inner pulp (or dentin) and nerve structure of your child’s mouth. From there, they can provide immediate treatment to prevent any future pain.

Toothaches are a common part of childhood, and when they happen, you can be prepared with some tried and tested home remedies to help your child feel better while you contact their dentist for further instruction. Stop toothaches in their tracks and help your child smile wide again!