What Should I Do if My Child Has a Toothache?


One of the most frustrating things as a parent is seeing our children struggle but not knowing how to help. Not everything is in our power, unfortunately. For instance, when your child has a toothache, you can’t exactly make it magically feel better. All you can think to do at the time is wipe away their tears, tell them that everything will be okay, and give them extra cuddles. You still want what’s best for your little one when it comes to the pain, however. Luckily, in the case of a toothache, there are some things you can do to at least ease the situation up a bit.

Things to Do When Your Child Has a Toothache

We aren’t magical, but we can still assist our children when they need us the most. Parents can even assist when their kid has an ache in one of their teeth.

Everyone knows how terrible toothaches are. They throb. The pain is sharp and deep at the same time. Everything from chewing to drinking cold water seems to irritate this oral ache. It’s truly one of the worst pains one could feel and perhaps one of the most annoying. No wonder children feel so irate and moody during these times! And, surely, you’re going to want to eliminate this sort of pain from your child.

Here are some things we suggest doing to aid your kiddo when a toothache arises:

  • Have your little one rinse their mouth with a mixture of warm water and a teaspoon of salt. Never have them swish with super hot or very cold water. Make sure they spit out and do not swallow the rinse. Have them repeat this multiple times a day if necessary.
  • Give them acetaminophen, such as Children’s Tylenol, to ease those extra achy moments. Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosage. When in doubt or whenever you worry that there may be an interference with other medication your child is taking, for instance, always speak with your child’s doctor.
  • Provide your child a cold compress if they have facial swelling due to their tooth trouble. The cold will numb the pain and take down the swelling at the same time. Younger children might prefer sucking on something cold like a fruit ice pop or a frozen teething ring. Don’t let your kiddo leave a cold compress in one spot for more than 20 minutes at a time. The general rule is, “20 minutes on, 20 minutes off,” and then repeat as necessary. For very young children, you may want to opt for even less time.

The latter are recommended by America’s Pediatric Dentists. If you come across another home remedy for toothaches online, always consult a licensed dentist first before trying it on your child. Your child’s safety comes first.

Common Causes of Toothaches in Children

Knowing that your child is experiencing an oral ache is bad enough, but what exactly is causing it?

One of the most common and normal causes of a toothache in a young child is a tooth beginning to erupt in the mouth. As expected, it doesn’t feel so great when a sharp tooth is ripping its way through the soft, sensitive gums in the mouth. The first tooth typically erupts between six to nine months of age. However, every child is different. The last baby tooth (the upper second molar) normally comes in around 25 to 33 months of age, according to Mouth Healthy. Again, not every child is the same, so this may vary.

Another common cause (although not “normal” nor healthy) of toothaches in children is a cavity. In the case that your child has a cavity, it’s important for a dentist to treat it as soon as possible. Letting a cavity go can lead to more serious pain and potential tooth loss. Not only that, but children with cavities may be at a higher risk of other tooth- and non-tooth-related health problems.

Trauma or oral infection might be other reasons a child has a toothache. Again, a dentist would be best to consult in a scenario like these. Do not try to deal with oral trauma or infection at home on your own.

Symptoms that Signify that a Toothache is Serious

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if a child’s aches and pains are signs of normal development or something more serious. For instance, when our child complains of leg pain, it might either be normal growing pains, or it could be something else entirely. However, we never really know unless we either give it time to see if the aches ease up on its own or take our child to the doctor for an evaluation.

The same goes when your child has an achy tooth or teeth. Is it a tooth growing in your child’s mouth? Is it a cavity? What could it possibly be, you might wonder? Of course, only a dentist can let you know. Although, there are fortunately some signs you can look out for to determine if your child’s oral pain is something more than just normal oral development.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Pain while eating and/or drinking, especially foods or drinks that are cold, hot, or sweet
  • Staining or dark discoloring on your child’s tooth
  • An abnormal hole or pit in your child’s tooth that was never there before
  • A fractured or chipped part of your child’s tooth
  • Swollen, bright red, tender, and bleeding gums
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Fever in addition to oral symptoms such as tooth or gum pain
  • Pus coming from or near the oral cavity
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the face, jaw, or neck

Don’t immediately jump to conclusions if your little one is experiencing any of the latter symptoms. However, do be cautious, and keep an eye on them. And, most importantly, make sure to set them up with an emergency visit at the dentist. After all, the latter symptoms are not typical in tooth development nor are considered normal oral changes in children. Usually, they signify that something is wrong, and they may require treatment. Luckily, if caught quickly, treatment can be easy, fast, and a breeze.

Your Child’s Dentist Can Help

Of course there are temporary things you can do to help when your child has a toothache. However, nothing helps more than electing the help of a dental professional when tooth pains arise in your son or daughter.

Dentists not only can potentially prescribe something to lessen your child’s pain, but they can also discover the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide additional advice for you as the parent to continue helping your child with their pain at home. This is true whether your child is experiencing normal pain as a part of normal oral changes or if they are dealing with pain for a completely different reason.

During your child’s dental visit, it’s critical to ask any questions you might have about your child’s tooth pain. Your inquiries will be answered based on years of schooling and first-hand experience. Never doubt the intelligence of a dentist! They’re here to help you and to provide you with their wisdom to ensure your child’s oral health is at its finest.

Don’t worry. Soon enough, your child’s tooth pain will be gone, and sanity will rise to the surface once more!