Toothache in Children: An Overview

Toothache in Children: An Overview

Sep 01, 2019

Toothache is a common episode for young children. However, parents worry anytime their child is experiencing pain. Worrying is not always futile as toothaches often signify bigger problems like tooth decay. Tooth decay calls for immediate attention. If left untreated, it can gallop to a worse state.

Toothache in Children: Definition

A toothache is a sensation of discomfort caused due to the inflammation and infection of pulp inside a tooth. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels and is the softer part inside the tooth.

A toothache most commonly takes place due to an injury to the tooth. The most general form of tooth injury is from a cavity. It leads to a hole in the affected tooth.

Poor dental hygiene results in a cavity. Consuming excess of food containing sugar and starch causes tooth decay and damage. Mouth bacteria feed on the sugar and starch and release an acid that corrodes the teeth which lead to tooth decay.

Other Causes of Dental Pain among Children

  • Broken tooth- As parents, it is vital to be aware of broken or chipped teeth and how it can be prevented. They are a common occurrence among children. They can be easily fixed when treated properly by a medical health professional. It occurs due to injuries while playing. It can be prevented by supervision, prevention and protection.
  • Loose fillings- If the dental filling cracks or loosens, it should be replaced. If the filling is not replaced quickly enough it can cause toothache.
  • Abscessed tooth- An abscessed tooth is caused due to the accumulation of pus in different parts of the tooth. It can be the cause of moderate or severe pain among children.
  • Sinus condition- A sinus infection can also cause pain in the teeth.
  • Gum disease- An irritated gum is called Gingivitis. They are tender and red. Bleeding can be caused when brushing or flossing are ignored. This can cause severe pain.
  • Stuck food- Stuck hard food between the teeth can cause toothache.
  • Emerging teeth- ‘Eruption’ refers to the emerging teeth through the gum line. In babies, an emerging tooth is called teething. An average child has a set 20 primary teeth by the age of 3 years. Parents must take care of these teeth even though they are designed to fall out. The falling out is painful for young children.


While symptoms may vary from child to child, the most common symptoms among children are:

  • Constant pain in a tooth
  • Increase in pain when the tooth is touched
  • Severe discomfort while eating or drinking hot or cold food
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • A sore and tender jaw


Having a healthcare provider who is aware of the complete health history of the child is key in the successful diagnosis of toothache. He can refer the child to a good pediatric dentist for an evaluation and relief.

The pediatric dentist may prescribe for X-ray of the affected tooth that shows the images of internal teeth and tissues. A transilluminator may be used to check for cavities.

The treatment of the problem varies on the ground of child’s symptoms, general health, age and severity. Treatment may include pain medicine, antibiotics, tooth removal, warm salt water rinses for the mouth, if required draining pus-filled infection, a simple filling, root canal and antibiotics.

To alleviate the pain an acetaminophen product can be given. Another choice is an ibuprofen product.

Prevention of Toothache in Children

Good oral hygiene prevents tooth problems altogether. We all know that ‘Prevention is better than cure’. A child, therefore, should be taught to follow these habits regularly:

  • Brushing twice a day.
  • Flossing on either side of the painful tooth to extract any wedged food.
  • Visiting a pediatric dentist regularly. A pediatric dentist can find and treat cavities at an early stage before they destroy the pulp. He can advise as to how to prevent cavities and maintain your oral health.
  • Curtailing the intake of food high in sugar and starch and eating healthy.

Imbibing good dental habits at an early age plays an indispensable role in maintaining that beautiful smile of your children. Schedule an appointment with Golnick Pediatric Dentistry if your child needs a check up.

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