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What Can it Mean When a Child’s Cheeks Hurt?

toddler boy in blue shirt holding his cheeks

As a parent, you’re probably familiar with toothaches and how to treat them. However, if your toddler is experiencing cheek pain, you may be less sure. Learn the possible causes and how you can help soothe your child from Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental.

Possible Causes of Cheek Pain

Toothaches are usually caused by damage to the teeth, decay, or infection. Cheek pain is not usually caused by decay, but can result from damage, infection, or a chronic condition.


Your child’s cheeks may hurt if they’ve been recently injured. If they got hit in the face while playing a sport or from an accident, that can damage the tissues of their cheeks, especially if the inside of their cheek was cut against their teeth.

Children also sometimes accidentally bite the insides of their own cheeks as they chew, leading to pain as the sore heals. However, if your toddler’s cheek pain is persistent or they haven’t been injured, you may be able to rule out injury as the cause.


Through various types of infection, your child may develop a condition called stomatitis, or pain inside the mouth from open sores on their cheeks, tongue, or gums. If your child’s cheek hurts and you can see these types of sores, it’s important to take them to their doctor or dentist for confirmation. If it’s a bacterial infection, antibiotics should clear it up. If it’s viral, it may have to simply run its course on its own. Either way, you should consult a professional if the pain persists.

Chronic Conditions

A less likely but potential cause of pain is a chronic condition called a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Repeated clenching or grinding of teeth causes your child’s jaw joints to wear or move out of place. This can also affect how the teeth are aligned and cause pain in their chewing muscles. Your pediatric dentist will be able to tell if this is the reason your child’s cheek hurts by looking for signs of wear on the teeth.

How to Help Ease Your Toddler’s Cheek Pain

mother holding crying son in her lap

If your child’s pain is constant and severe, don’t wait for an appointment but take them to their doctor right away. If the pain is manageable until your dentist’s appointment, here are a few ways to help soothe your little one:

  • As appropriate, administer over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Apply warm compresses or ice packs gently to the outside of their cheek.
  • If tolerable, gently massage your child’s neck, shoulders, or jaw area.

At your appointment, your pediatric dentist will perform an examination to try and determine why your child’s cheek hurts and prescribe treatment.

Contact Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental Today

If you live in the Reno area and your toddler is experiencing cheek pain, contact us to make an appointment today. Our friendly, welcoming staff will help them feel as comfortable as possible as we figure out the cause. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality care to you and your family.

Call us at (775) 800-4117 or reach out to us online.

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