4 Causes of Tooth Pain in Kids — And How to Treat It

Feb 22, 2021

At Stellar Kids Dentistry in Mukilteo, Mill Creek, and Everett, Washington, we understand that no parent wants to see their little ones in pain. As adults, we know what to do when we’re hurt or unwell. We seek help when we need it. Children, on the other hand, don’t always know how to react when they’re in pain. Sometimes, they scream or cry, but other times they stay quiet.

Not every ache and pain is a red flag, but if your child is complaining of a toothache, finding the root cause is crucial for their recovery. While tooth pain isn’t usually cause for concern, it can point to a more serious oral health issue.

What causes toothaches in children

Here are a few reasons your child may have a toothache, and what you should do to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, happens when you unintentionally grate your teeth together. Most people do this unconsciously. It’s most common at night when you’re asleep. Children become teeth grinders for many reasons, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Earaches 
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Sudden change (a new sibling, moving, arguments at home, etc.)
  • Certain medications
  • Malocclusion (a bad bite)

Without treatment, teeth grinding can negatively impact your child’s oral health. They may end up with cracked teeth, loose teeth, jaw pain, and even headaches.

Tooth decay

A cavity that spreads to the root of the tooth can cause tooth pain and sensitivity. Without treatment, tooth decay can even lead to an abscess. These pus-filled sacs don’t just hurt. They also contain tons of potentially harmful bacteria. If your child has a tooth abscess that ruptures, this bacteria can spread to other areas of their body.

Gum disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can cause pain and discomfort. While reversible in its early stages, gum disease poses a major threat to your child’s oral health once it progresses. Loose teeth, bad breath, gum recession, and even permanent tooth loss are just a few worrisome consequences of gum disease in children.

Tooth eruption

When a new tooth breaks through the gums, it can be uncomfortable for children. Eating, consuming hot and cold beverages, and chewing may prove to be difficult tasks if your child is getting a new tooth. Fortunately, this type of tooth pain typically subsides once the new tooth fully emerges.

Toothache treatments for children

If your child has a toothache that isn’t going away on its own, call the team at Stellar Kids Dentistry. We’re happy to schedule a dental exam to find out what’s causing your child’s toothache. In the meantime, you can reduce their tooth pain and swelling with a few simple at-home treatments:

  • Hold ice wrapped in a towel to your child’s face.
  • Use a cotton swab to apply a few drops of clove oil onto the affected tooth.
  • Have your child rinse their mouth out with warm water and salt.
  • Give your child a pediatrician-approved anti-inflammatory pain reliever.

Once the Stellar Kids team examines your child’s mouth, they can determine the right tooth pain treatment to use. If your child has a persistent toothache, their dentist may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Tooth extraction
  • Cavity treatment and filling
  • Nighttime mouth guard for teeth grinding
  • Lancing a tooth abscess
  • Antibiotics

The sooner your child gets treatment for tooth pain, the better. To schedule a visit with Stellar Kids Dentistry, call or book an appointment online today!