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This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

We all know how frustrating tooth problems can be as adults. We are all familiar with the pains related to our teeth, from sensitivity to wisdom teeth and everywhere in between. If you experience tooth discomfort, you’d normally contact your dentist to make an appointment.

But what about our children?

If your child is an infant and getting in their first teeth, teething is most likely the source of the pain. There are quite a few symptoms of teething pain, including irritability, disrupted sleep, gum inflamation, drooling, loss of appetite, rash around the mouth, mild temperature, biting, and keeping their fingers in their mouth. Purchase some teething rings and keep them cleaned and in your refridgerator. Read more about teething in our article Teething Pains: Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions For Your Teething Infant.

For children older than one year, it could be a different problem. Children aren’t always able to pinpoint what’s hurting them, so here are symptoms and signs to look out for when caring for your children’s oral health as well as what you should do about them.

  • Tooth Pain – If your child suffers from aching teeth, it isn’t always going to be because of a cavity. Your child’s pain could be affected by many different factors, including new teeth coming in. However, whenever your youngster complains of a toothache, you should keep an eye out for cavities. Ask your child to identify any of the teeth that may be bothering them or to the spot where they are feeling pain. When cavities form in your child’s teeth, it aches even when he or she isn’t eating and drinking.
  • Gum Pain – When your children start complaining about gum discomfort, it is possible that they are misinterpreting the cause of the pain in their mouth. This occurs more frequently in younger children than in older kids, but it’s still important to check for a cavity if your child suffers from gum pain. Gum discomfort could also be related to a cavity because in some cases, inflamed gums can be due to poor brushing. If your kids are old enough to be brushing their own teeth, you must assure that they do so properly, if at all. Agitated gums can signify that your child isn’t flossing or brushing their teeth thoroughly. If your child isn’t flossing or cleaning their teeth properly, their teeth may be in danger of developing problems like cavities.
  • Spots on the Teeth – Do you see any chalky white or brown patches on your child’s teeth? These could be indications of a cavity forming in your child’s mouth. Tooth decay is also identified by dark areas surrounding the tooth. Teeth that are forming cavities will begin to deteriorate. As the decay advances, black patches will form on the tooth before the whole tooth goes dark.
  • Chewing Pain – If an older child feels pain during chewing, they can probably describe it to you. Try to notice unusual habits in smaller kids who have difficulty voicing their fears. If your child is stubborn at mealtime and isn’t eating normally, you should check their mouth for cavities. Some children may be able to identify a particular tooth that is making it painful to chew, but sometimes it may be that a whole section in their mouth is painful, not just a particular tooth.
  • Sensitive Teeth – Remember that cavities can sometimes cause more pain when eating or chewing particular foods. Are your child’s teeth sensitive when he or she eats particular foods? You should look for cavities if your child always complains of discomfort or sensitivity when consuming a certain kind of food. Foods containing a lot of sugar are some of the most prevalent foods that induce cavity pain. Your youngster may also be sensitive to hot or cold foods as a result of a cavity.
  • Holes in the Teeth – Holes in your child’s teeth are one of the definitive signs of a cavity. You can get your youngster to open their mouth and examine all their teeth for any holes. As soon as a cavity starts to affect a tooth, it becomes more fragile. Because of this, the teeth with cavities may be more prone to cracks or chips. If you discover a tooth with a chip or fracture, it may not always indicate that there is a cavity, as breakage can be the result of an event, but you should still be on the lookout for any cavities.

Children’s Tooth Pain Relief and Remedies

If your child is still feeling pain in their mouth, but you don’t notice anything out of the ordinary, such as evident swelling or a cavity, assist your youngster with flossing on both sides of the sore tooth. This may release a piece of food that has become stuck between the teeth and is putting pressure on the nerves. If the pain continues, attempt the following measures to alleviate your child’s pain until you can get an appointment with the dentist:

  • Over-the-Counter Pain Medications – Children can typically be given acetaminophen or ibuprofen in doses appropriate for their weight and age. Be sure read the instructions carefully and contact your child’s physician if you have any questions.
  • Cold Packs – Place a cold pack to the jaw, particularly if swelling is present, and place it next to the area of pain. To avoid ice burns on the cheeks, apply and remove the ice pack for a few minutes at a time.
  • Salt Water Rinse – Let your child rinse their mouth with a warm saltwater solution made by using 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a cup of warm water. Let your child rinse or hold the saltwater over the painful area.

If none of these techniques relieve the discomfort or your child’s pain is accompanied with a growing fever, you should make an appointment at Prime Smile as quickly as possible.

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Dr. Katie Peterson

“Dr. Katie” is a graduate of DePauw University and the Indiana University School of Dentistry. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Indiana Dental Association, and an affiliate of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. With more than a decade of experience, Dr. Katie became enchanted with pediatric patient population early in her career, and has focused on the care and treatment of young patients ever since. She has worked at the westside office since 2005, as an associate then lead dentist, before acquiring both the two practices. This has allowed her to sharpen her leadership skills and create a staff that shares her vision of “patient first.”