Your Pediatric Dentist's Best Tips for a Child's Toothache

If your child has a toothache and you live in Rockville or Gaithersburg, we encourage you to come see the pediatric dentist, Dr. Ball, especially for a toothache that has persisted for multiple days. Nobody enjoys having a toothache, and they can be particularly distressing to a young child who might be experiencing one for the first time. If you won't be able to make it to Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry right away, there are a few tips you can follow to keep your child as comfortable as possible. 

What Causes a Toothache?

Tooth decay is the most common reason a tooth might initially feel painful, but it isn’t the only cause. Tooth pain can also come from pulp inflammation, dental abscesses, a cracked tooth, or gum disease. An impacted tooth (meaning one trapped beneath the gums by bone, gum tissue, or other teeth) can be painful too.

Tooth sensitivity can cause discomfort too, while sometimes tooth pain is the result of a sinus infection or congestion. A child’s toothache could be as simple as teething from an incoming baby tooth or adult tooth, in which case it’s merely a normal part of their development. However, the untrained eye won't always be able to tell the difference between normal toothaches and dangerous ones, which is where the pediatric dentist comes in.

Managing the Toothache Before a Dental Appointment

Again, the best thing to do for your child when they have a toothache is to come to the pediatric dentist, but if that isn’t possible at first, here are a few tips you can follow to manage their discomfort in the meantime:

  • Gentle cleaning: Ensure the affected area is clean. Use a soft, clean cloth or gauze to wipe away any debris around the tooth. Be gentle to avoid causing additional discomfort.
  • Saltwater rinse: Mix a teaspoon of salt in warm water and have your child rinse their mouth for about 30 seconds. This can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. (But make sure they don't swallow the saltwater!)
  • Cold compress: Apply a cold compress (a clean cloth wrapped around ice) on the outside of the child's cheek for 15-20 minutes. This can help reduce swelling and numb the area.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Consult your child's dentist or pediatrician for the appropriate dosage, but over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage guidelines carefully.
  • Topical anesthetics: Over-the-counter topical gels or ointments containing benzocaine can provide temporary relief by numbing the painful area. Use these as directed on the product packaging.
  • Avoid certain foods: Encourage your child to avoid very hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, as they can exacerbate tooth sensitivity and pain.
  • Elevate the head: If the toothache is causing discomfort while lying down, prop your child's head up slightly with an extra pillow when they sleep. This can help reduce blood flow to the affected area and ease pain.
  • Distraction: Engage your child in activities that divert their attention from the pain, such as reading a story, watching a movie, or playing a game together.
  • Stay hydrated: Ensure your child drinks an adequate amount of water to prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate oral discomfort.
  • Avoid pressure: Discourage your child from biting down on hard objects or foods, as this can worsen the pain or damage the affected tooth.

Avoiding Future Toothaches

Any parent who has helped their child through one toothache wants it to be their last. Not all causes are preventable, like sinus infections, teething, a sore loose tooth, or a tooth damaged in an accident, but you can do a lot to protect their teeth from developing aches and pains due to poor dental health.

Helping them build strong daily oral hygiene habits is the most important thing. Teach them to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, encourage them to floss daily, and schedule regular dental appointments for them, building a positive relationship with the dentist so that they have a good outlook about dental care. Another great way to prevent toothaches is to cut down on sugary snacks and drinks, especially between mealtimes.

Remedies Help, Only the Pediatric Dentist Can Fix the Problem

Pain is our bodies’ natural alert system to tell us when something is wrong, so we shouldn’t ignore it. No matter what you think might be the cause of your child’s toothache, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with the dentist in case the underlying problem is more serious. Dr. Ball can take a look and provide any treatment that may be necessary to get them smiling again! You can learn more about our practice in Rockville, just down the freeway from Gaithersburg, by checking our business page.

Let’s defeat that toothache together!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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