Whether your child is teething, has a cavity or just got his braces tightened, a toothache causes discomfort and irritation. Until you can take your child to the dentist, use home remedies and over-the-counter care to make the pain bearable. Although these remedies do not eliminate the cause of the toothache, pain relief allows your child to get on with her day. Talk to your child's pediatrician before using any remedies to soothe her tooth pain.
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Removing the Obstruction
Sometimes, an obstruction under the gums or between the teeth causes gum pain. For instance, a corn kernel might lodge itself between two molars, causing severe discomfort. In some cases, brushing your child's teeth, gently swishing with warm water and using dental floss removes the obstruction, eliminating pain. Even if the obstruction has been removed, some pain might still exist. Take your child to the dentist to make sure the obstruction has been removed completely.
Your child doesn't have to sit through the pain of a toothache, even if he still has a few days before his dentist appointment. Some toothaches respond better to cold temperatures, while others respond to warm temperatures. Place an ice pack on your child's cheek for several minutes to see if it numbs the pain. If it helps, instruct him to swish his mouth with cold water. If it doesn't help, instruct him to swish his mouth with warm water. Salt water helps reduce swelling, so if your child's gums look irritated, add 1 tsp. salt to an 8-oz. glass of water and instruct him to take a mouthful, swish it around in his mouth, then spit it out in the sink.
When your child's toothache causes unbearable pain, make it more bearable with over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These medications reduce swelling and make it possible for your child to eat and talk more normally. Give your child a dose of the medication every four hours or as directed on the label's instructions. Over-the-counter gels and creams that contain benzocaine might be effective in reducing your child's tooth pain, but use them only if her pediatrician approves, especially if your child is under the age of 2.
What to Eat
Your usually hungry child might have no appetite when he has a toothache because eating is so painful. To make eating a less painful and traumatic experience while he has a toothache, serve soft foods. Crunching down on hard foods might irritate the gums and teeth even more. Bland foods are more soothing than spicy foods or foods that contain onions and garlic.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Healthychildren.org: Dental Emergencies: What Parents Need To Know
- The Doctors Book of Home Remedies; Deborah Tkac
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Toothaches; Jason S. Baker, DMD; May 2008
- Mouth Healthy: Dental Emergency