Toothache in children

A child may experience a toothache for a variety of different reasons. Whether it is just a mild soreness or a sharp pain, your goal as a parent is to do something to help ease the pain. Acids resulting from the breakdown of sugar can lead to tooth decay, which in turn affects nerves in the teeth, making a tooth particularly sensitive to pain. While toothaches are a common problem among children, you do not want to ignore the cause.

  1. Causes

    • Teething causes pain for babies. Tooth decay can be another reason for a child’s toothache, even a very young child. If a child loses a primary tooth before it is ready to come out, this can cause a tooth to hurt as well, particularly if the tooth is wiggled or pulled too hard. One of the most frequent causes of a child’s toothache, which tends to be overlooked, is a piece of food stuck between two teeth. This kind of irritation can cause a child considerable discomfort. When your child complains of an aching tooth, the first thing you should do is to look inside her mouth and examine the area where it hurts. Use a small penlight to see if any food particles are lodged there. If so, use dental floss to remove any bits of food you see. Look for a chipped tooth or a filling that might be loose or missing, as these can be other causes of a child’s toothache.


    • Home remedies can help keep the pain manageable until you can schedule your child to see a dentist. Some of the more common remedies include rubbing clove oil on the tooth that hurts, placing cold slices of raw potato or cucumber inside your child’s mouth to soothe the pain or applying a warm, damp cloth to the outside of your child’s cheeks. Some parents place dried mint leaf on the aching tooth.

    Other Natural Remedies

    • Distracting your child from the pain might sound too simple, but it often works. Take your child’s mind off the pain by reading to him or allowing him to watch a favorite movie video. Avoid feeding your child spicy, salty or hot foods, as they can irritate an already painful tooth even more. Extremely cold foods can have the same effect. Until your child feels better, consuming only soft foods and liquids at room temperature might be best. Biting down too hard while chewing, or eating sugary snacks and drinking fruit juices can irritate the area if a cavity is the problem. You should also encourage your child to keep her jaw relaxed so that her upper and lower teeth do not touch. This prevents placing pressure on the sensitive tooth.


    • Plain, warm water can help relieve a child’s toothache, especially if tooth enamel is cracked. Give your child a glass of warm water to rinse his mouth before spitting it back out. Have him rinse again whenever the tooth begins to hurt. A teaspoon of table salt mixed in a glassful of warm water can soothe irritated and swollen gums as well. However, some toothaches actually feel better using cold water instead of warm. Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the outside of the cheek may help, too.


    • If you give your child an over-the-counter drug to relieve the pain of a toothache, make sure you give the correct dosage, according to the instructions on the bottle. Medication for children should be administered according to age and weight. The use of products containing aspirin put children at risk for developing Reye’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that primarily attacks the nervous system of children and teens

Brush and Floss

Gently brush the teeth and floss on either side of the sore tooth to remove any food that may be wedged between teeth. If your child is old enough to brush and floss on her own, allow her to do so while you supervise to be sure it is done correctly.

Saltwater Rinse

If your child is old enough to “swish and spit” a saltwater rinse, it may help relieve toothache pain and reduce swelling around the sore tooth. Make the rinse by adding roughly a half teaspoon of table salt to a cup of warm water. Stir to dissolve the salt. Be sure the rinse is not too hot.

Give your child a sip of the rinse, instruction her to swish it around in her mouth, especially near the sore tooth. Have her swish for about 30 second and then spit the rinse into the sink. You can use the saltwater rinse every few hours if the pain continues. Just make sure your child spits out the mixture instead of swallowing it.

Ice Pack

Wrap an ice pack or a small bag of frozen vegetables in a towel. Hold the ice pack to the area of soreness for about 15 or 20 minutes. Depending on the problem, an ice pack may augment rather than relieve your child’s pain. If he complains, take the ice pack off. If ice provides relief, you can use it every few hours. Just be sure that the skin completely rewarms between applications. Do not put ice directly on the skin or the painful tooth.