Children and toothaches aren’t a great combination. Kids often react more strongly to pain than most adults do. And it’s not something they can control, either. Developmentally speaking, they can’t inhibit their responses yet. Fortunately, they do gain this as they grow up, but until then, you’ll have to deal with wailing tots. When a toothache strikes, then, you’re often left in a tizzy—unless you know how to relieve your child’s toothache, that is.
The thing about toothaches, however, is they’re more common than you think they are. Because of this, be prepared to soothe them over and over. For the most part, the cause of a toothache is minor in scope. Maybe your kid bit down an icy ice cream cone. Perhaps they have something stuck between their teeth. In these cases, the problem is a little easier to solve, no matter how tedious the solution might feel.
Some cases, however, are a little complex. Tooth decay and injuries are more severe than your average fishbone and will require more serious intervention. Regardless of the reason, however, here’s how to relieve your child’s toothache:
For minor toothaches
- If the toothache is caused by something stuck between the teeth: Most of the time, the source of the toothache doesn’t really come from the tooth itself. Your child most likely got something stuck between their teeth. Fortunately—or rather, unfortunately—this cause is more common than you think. On the flip side, it’s easier to relieve this type of toothache. Simply give your child a glass of water to rinse with. In this case, the more rigorously, the better. Once you dislodge the debris, your child will most likely feel better after.
Some things take a little more effort to dislodge. In this case, you might want to gently remove the debris with some floss until the offending object goes away.
- If the toothache is caused by tooth sensitivity: Some people are more sensitive to stimuli than others. And usually, it’s something self-inflicted. Tooth sensitivity, after all, is generally caused by dentin or root exposure—mainly due to gum recession. If this is the type of toothache your kid has, try using a brush with softer bristles and toothpaste for sensitive teeth. If their teeth still hurt after, however, it might be time to visit their dentist.
For major toothaches
- If the toothache is caused by injury: The first thing you need to do is know what kind of trauma they have. Were their teeth knocked out? Or are they still intact? Once you’ve got your answers, you can do some emergency measures to speed up recovery. (We’ve got a handy article about it here.) Otherwise, take them straight to the dentist.
- If the toothache is caused by decay: There’s not much you can really do if the ache is caused by tooth decay. What you can do is drive down the swelling with an ice pack. Afterward, take your child to the dentist as soon as possible. The earlier you stop the problem, the better the outcome.