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What to do for a Child With a Toothache

As adults, we don’t like dealing with pain, but we know how to handle the aches and hurts that life throws at us. Watching your child deal with pain, however, is something completely different. As a parent, you earnestly wish you could take your child’s pain away. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it shouldn’t stop you from doing everything you can to care for your child while they’re dealing with discomfort.

If your child has tooth pain, it can make life pretty difficult for them. Simple tasks like eating, drinking, and brushing teeth can cause soreness and irritation. What can you do to help assuage the pain of a child’s toothache?

Children’s Dentistry is a family-friendly pediatric dental practice in the greater Las Vegas area. Every day, we help children who are suffering from the pain of a toothache. Want to help your child feel better? Here’s some simple, easy to remember tips that all begin with the letter “A:”

1. ASSESS The Situation

If your child is able, have them show you what tooth is causing them pain. Do you see redness or swelling? Do you see any signs of a cavity or a fracture in the tooth? By doing a quick visual scan, you’ll be able to call the dentist’s office and give an overview of the symptoms and possible cause when you set up an appointment for your child’s toothache.

2. AVOID Certain Foods And Beverages

When your child complains of a toothache, you can help them avoid some of the pain by making sure they don’t consume food or drinks that will compound their problems. This includes avoiding:

  • Hot or cold beverages: The extremes of hot and cold can cause sharp pain to a child that has a cavity, broken tooth, or other tooth pain. Your child should avoid drinks like hot chocolate, soda, or milkshakes.
  • Chewing gum: Sugar-free gum can actually be good for you under normal circumstances, because chewing gum encourages your mouth to manufacture saliva. If you suspect your child has a toothache, however, have them put the gum away until they see the pediatric dentist.
  • Popcorn: If your child accidentally crunches on an unpopped kernel, they can cause themselves some serious agony (as well as causing further damage).
  • Ice: Chewing ice is a bad habit in general, but it’s especially unwise when dealing with the effects of a toothache.

This list isn’t exhaustive by any means. If your child has tooth pain, the best recommendation is simply to be cautious and to use common sense when eating and drinking.

3. APPLY A Cold Compress

If your child has a toothache, applying an ice pack to the jaw could help reduce swelling and relieve pain. For best results, wrap a reusable frozen gel pack with a clean, dry towel. Then, apply the wrapped frozen compress to the jaw. By wrapping the pack with a towel, your child will get the soothing effects of the cold without having to put the frozen compress directly on their skin.

4. ACQUIRE Over-The-Counter Medication

bottle of painkillers

If your child’s toothache is causing them constant pain, your best option in the short-term may be to give them an OTC pain reliever. You have several options, including:

  • Tylenol or Advil: These anti-inflammatories will likely reduce your child’s tooth pain quickly. Check the dosage levels of acetaminophen or ibuprofen carefully before use, and ensure that you don’t go over the recommended amount of doses per day.
  • Orajel: For targeted relief, consider using a topical gel that is applied directly to the affected area in the mouth. When using Orajel or another gel similar to it, help your child make the application with a cotton swab instead of allowing them to apply it on their own.

Before you give your child any medication, consult with their pediatric dentist. Also, realize that giving your child medication is only a short term solution, and won’t fix the root cause of their toothache.

5. ASSIST Healing With Salt Water

When your child has a toothache, there’s a possibility that the area could become infected if proper care is neglected. To help keep the mouth clean and the aching area free from infection, have your child gargle with warm salt water. Keep these tips in mind when preparing a salt water solution for your child:

  • A little goes a long way; only a small amount of salt water is necessary.
  • Make sure the water is tepid, not scalding hot.
  • Watch carefully to make sure they don’t swallow the water.
  • Remind them to swish the solution in their mouth for 30 seconds before spitting.

Following this procedure several times a day will aid healing and prevent infection.

6. ASK For An Appointment

Of course, as important as the first five steps are, none of them can take the place of a visit to the pediatric dentist. Once you take your child to the office, the dentist will give them a full oral exam. Many times, dental x-rays will be taken to give the dentist a deeper look than a visual inspection will allow. Once they have given your child’s toothache thorough consideration, they’ll go over treatment options for their unique set of circumstances.

If you live in the Las Vegas area, the best choice you can make for your child’s oral care is to take them to Children’s Dentistry. With 10 convenient locations in the Las Vegas metro area, there’s an office nearby that will able to quickly see your child. We also offer Saturday visits, because we know toothaches don’t only happen from Monday to Friday!

Concerned about payment? All of our offices accept dental insurance, including Medicaid. We also offer special pricing and payment plans for those who pay out-of-pocket. If your child is in pain, we want to do everything we can to help. Call us at (702) 832-0508 or contact us online to schedule your child’s consultation today.