4 Common Causes of Toothaches in Children | And How to Treat Them

If you have ever experienced a toothache, you know how distressing it can be. Fortunately, as adults, we can comprehend the pain and take the required actions to address our complaints. However, for children, the scenario is quite different as they cannot fully express themselves and trying to understand the reason behind their pain can be very stressful. 

*This post is written by experts from Dental Health Associates in Madison, WI — they have 7 convenient Madison area locations. 

As dental professionals we understand the stress and confusion you may have surrounding your little one’s oral health. One of the most common dental complaints from children is a toothache and we want to make sure you know how to help your child when they are experiencing pain. 

What can cause a toothache?

Knowing the reason behind a toothache is essential to providing the best plan of action for treatment.

1: Chipped or cracked tooth 

Injury to the mouth can lead to chipping of the tooth and, in severe cases, may lead to a fractured tooth.

2: Dental cavities 

We understand that children can be reluctant when it comes to brushing their teeth, but poor oral hygiene will lead to the accumulation of plaque, which causes dental cavities. Dental decay is one of the most common reasons for toothaches in children and should be addressed promptly to prevent progression.

3: Dental abscess

When dental cavities remain untreated, it can cause an infection. If this progresses it may lead to the formation of a dental abscess, accompanied by swelling, discharge, and pain.

4: Emerging tooth 

If your child refuses to brush, eat, or becomes exceptionally cranky, it may be due to an emerging tooth. Teething starts with the eruption of the first teeth at around 6 months of age and continues until around 24 months of age until the last baby tooth has erupted. 

What to do when your child has a toothache?

Children tend to have unique dental needs and need specialized care. Therefore, if your child is in severe tooth or jaw pain, the first thing you should do is to schedule an appointment with a dentist. 

We know that dental emergencies can sometimes arise on evenings and weekends outside of normal business hours. If this happens to be your situation, call your dental office immediately. Outside of normal business hours, we have an on-call dentist available 7 days a week to triage your situation and help decide the best course of action. If you believe you have a dental emergency, call our DHA office at 608-284-5400. 

In the meantime, you can take the following measures to comfort your little one and relieve their pain:

  1. Take some ice, wrap it in a soft cloth, and gently use it as a cold compress on the affected area.
  2. Go to your nearest pharmacy and purchase some over-the-counter pain medication for kids. Ensure you use it per recommendation and do not go over the recommended dosage. 
  3. If there is bleeding, you can use a soft cloth or some cotton to apply pressure to stop the bleeding while contacting your dental clinic. A broken or chipped tooth may be associated with soft tissue injury, or it may in fact be a dental emergency.
  4. Sometimes a toothache may be a result of an obstruction. For example, a food particle may be stuck between two teeth. In such cases, use a floss pick or a piece of floss to carefully dislodge the obstructed particle. 
  5. In cases of teething, a pacifier or teething toys may help reduce the discomfort.

How to prevent toothaches?

The key is to maintain good oral hygiene. 

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. If your child is old enough to do it themselves, ensure they do it correctly and under supervision. 
  • Reduce their sugar consumption. 
  • Make a habit of rinsing their mouth after each meal.
  • Do not let them sleep without cleaning their mouth. 
  • Most importantly, schedule regular dental appointments, which are the best solution to ensure good oral health.

If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 608-284-5400 or request an appointment using our online form. Our team of excellent and friendly dental professionals are here to assist you and your child’s dental needs!


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