A guide to the cause of your child’s toothache.

Children’s tooth pain is one particular area where parents are often not entirely sure how to react. Without feeling the pain yourself, it’s difficult to judge how serious the situation really is. The cause behind a toothache is often something only a dentist can determine, so this further complicates the situation.

You may find yourself thinking, “My child’s tooth hurts. What can I do?” There are a few different answers, depending on the issue at hand, but in any case, you should reach out to your dentist.

Even if you aren’t dealing with a dental emergency, your child will still need an appointment. Here are some of the common causes of tooth pain in children and what you can do about them.

1. Emerging Teeth

Emerging teeth can cause discomfort and tooth pain in children. Your child’s permanent teeth start coming in around age six or seven, with the last at around age 12 to 13—aside from the wisdom teeth that emerge later and can cause other issues.

In most cases, this type of pain is nothing to worry about. If your child starts experiencing more severe pain, that’s certainly a reason to visit the dentist. You can give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever or have them rinse their mouth with a warm saltwater mix to relieve tooth pain.

2. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is relatively common in children, leading to cavities that need to be filled. A cavity can become very painful, especially when you’re eating. If your child has sharp pain when chewing, especially when eating sweet, cold, or hot foods, they likely have one or more cavities.

While it’s important to treat tooth decay quickly, it is a routine dental issue. You can schedule an appointment for a filling to resolve the issue and the dentist will check for any other potential dental problems during the appointment.

3. Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth is a very serious issue. If your child has a cracked tooth, reach out to an emergency pediatric dentist right away. When a crack breaks through the enamel and exposes the tooth’s interior, your child can experience severe tooth pain.

Not only that, but they are at serious risk of developing an infection as bacteria in the mouth reach the interior of the tooth. They may require a root canal or even an extraction and tooth replacement if the damage is severe enough.

4. Loose or Missing Fillings

Fillings for cavities are generally a very reliable treatment that most people have no issue with; however, they can sometimes become loose and even fall out. When this happens, your child is essentially in the same position as before they had their filling.

The exposed cavity will be incredibly sensitive and your child may experience pain when eating. You should seek out an appointment with your dentist quickly. A loose or missing filling could mean that additional tooth decay is happening in the affected area.

5. Food Stuck Between Teeth

Sticky and hard foods can often become trapped between teeth and even in the gums. This can lead to tooth pain, and children often aren’t able to understand or articulate what the problem is.

If you can determine where the stuck piece of food is, flossing might be able to remove it; however, if the gums have become inflamed, flossing could cause further pain. A quick visit to your dentist can get to the bottom of the issue.

6. Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth decay and other factors can often lead to children’s teeth becoming sensitive to hot or cold foods. They can experience discomfort and pain when chewing. There is toothpaste available for sensitive teeth, and reviewing your child’s brushing habits could be in order.

Sensitive teeth can also indicate cavities or other issues. If your child is dealing with sensitive teeth, you should reach out to your dentist.

7. Physical Injuries

Children can have their teeth damaged by physical accidents during sports, play, or other activities. These injuries can vary widely in their severity. You could be dealing with a small crack in the tooth or a completely knocked-out tooth.

In any case, tooth pain after a physical impact is always a reason to visit the dentist. If the tooth has been knocked out or a piece chipped off, hold onto it and call your dentist for an emergency appointment right away.

Finding Out What’s Behind Your Child’s Tooth Pain

With so many potential causes, your best bet to deal with your child’s tooth pain is to visit your local dental office for kids. Dr. Jeffrey C. Jaynes has spent years providing effective dental treatments and care for children in Plano, TX. You can book an appointment with us today.