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What Can You Do for a Child Who Has a Tooth Ache?

By Amy Sutton ; Updated August 14, 2017

Proper dental care should start before a child even gets her first tooth to prevent cavities and gum disease, according to KidsHealth. Proper dental care should include proper brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. When a child does have a dental problem, it can sometimes cause a painful toothache, which must be treated.

What Is a Toothache?

A toothache, also known as a pulpitis, is a discomfort or pain felt in a child's tooth, according to This results from an inflammation of the pulp, which is found inside of the tooth. Toothaches, which may or may not be connected with an injury, can be painful for a child and should be treated.

Symptoms of a Tooth Problem

Symptoms or signs of a toothache in a child might include: a tooth that's painful to touch; unrelenting, throbbing pain at the tooth; pain in the jaw where the tooth is located; general malaise; fever; or shooting pain from eating or drinking something that's hot or cold, according to St. Louis Children's Hospital.

What's Causing It?

Many causes can lead to a toothache, such as food that has been wedged between two teeth, states A cavity that has formed in the tooth is often the cause of toothache, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. When kids eat foods that are starchy or sugary, bacteria in their mouths feeds on those sugars and starches, which then creates an acid that can eat right through a tooth, creating a cavity.

What Do I Do?

At the first sign of a toothache, it's recommended that you call your child's dentist to schedule an appointment right away. In the meantime, while you're waiting for the appointment, you can do some things at home to help with the pain. Floss around the painful tooth to ensure nothing is lodged there. Apply a cold compress to the jaw for 20 minutes and administer a children's over-the-counter pain reliever, recommends Seattle Children's Hospital, Research and Foundation. When you get to the dentist, treatment might include antibiotics, tooth extraction or draining of an abscess, depending on the diagnosis, according to St. Louis Children's Hospital.

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