Is Tooth Pain In Kids A Dental Emergency?

While not all tooth pain in children will be considered an emergency, it’s essential to understand situations where it may indicate a dental emergency. Knowing the difference between normal and abnormal dental pain and situations is crucial to understanding if and when to seek emergency dental care. Preventative dental care for your children is essential to avoid common occurrences of tooth pain.

Child with Tooth Pain

What to do when your child experiences tooth pain

When your child is experiencing tooth pain, knowing precisely what will soothe their dental pain can be challenging. Dental pain in children can resolve on its own or may require additional dental care. Many different factors could cause tooth pain in your child, including:

  • Dental Decay: Cavities in children can grow in size and severity if proper brushing and dental hygiene are not maintained.
  • Fillings: Fillings can be made from a few different materials. However, children with fillings consisting of silver amalgams may have extra sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, resulting in tooth discomfort or pain.
  • Sinus Problems: As with adults with sinus problems, children with sinus issues often have to grapple with sensitive teeth.
  • New Teeth: Your child, like all children, will lose their teeth for adult teeth to grow in. This process takes time and can result in enhanced discomfort or tooth pain in your child.
  • Cracks and Chips: If your child suffers from misaligned teeth or a habit of grinding their teeth, they are more susceptible to forming cracks or chips in their teeth. Children with chips or cracks will have more sensitive teeth that may cause excess discomfort when eating or drinking.
  • Improper Brushing: It is possible to brush too aggressively, and children can be prone to doing just that. Aggressive brushing of the teeth can result in cuts or bruises along the gums, causing sensitivity and pain in the mouth.

Determining the direct cause of dental pain in your child will help you choose the best remedy to start alleviating your child’s pain. In general, these three methods are recommended by children’s dentistry professionals to begin quickly relieving your child of their dental pain:

  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Applying a cold compress around the epicenter of the tooth pain.
  • Administer a saltwater wash or rinse.

Not sure if your child’s tooth pain is a dental emergency? Please contact us today; our experienced dental professionals will take excellent care of you and your child.

Signs That Your Child Has a Dental Emergency

Child in Bed with Tooth Pain

Knowing the scenarios that determine a dental emergency from general dental pain is essential information when dealing with a child with tooth pain. Generally, there are a handful of scenarios that are considered dental emergencies, including:

  • Knocked-Out Tooth: If your child’s tooth has been knocked out of its socket, there are several ways to proceed. If the knocked-out tooth is not an adult tooth, there is usually no reason to attempt to re-attach or return it to its socket. If the knocked-out tooth is an adult tooth, the tooth can be successfully re-attached within a 20-minute time frame. However, if emergency dental help cannot be reached in 20 minutes, placing the tooth in a milk container will be beneficial. 
  • Toothache: If your child’s face is swollen, applying a cold compress to the outside of the face will help reduce swelling. Have your child rinse with warm water and gently floss to dislodge any food that could be causing a toothache. Remember: never apply aspirin directly to teeth or gums as it can cause severe irritation for your child.
  • Fractured, Cracked, or Chipped Tooth: Fractured, cracked, or chipped teeth have a very high chance of being easily repaired. If possible, locate the fragments of your child’s tooth and keep them. A dental professional may be able to fix the tooth in its entirety.
  • Tongue, Lip, or Cheek Injury: In the instance of an injury of the lip, tongue, or cheek of your child, apply ice to any area that is swelling. If bleeding is present, applying slight pressure is beneficial. Take your child to emergency dental services right away.
  • Tooth Abscess: A tooth abscess is a swelling on the gums near your teeth. An abscess is an infection that must be treated right away. If a tooth abscess is left untreated, it can cause excess pain, a fever, or even spread to other body areas.

5 Ways to Help a Child With a Toothache 

A toothache is no fun for anyone and can be incredibly disarming for your child. When your child is experiencing a toothache, try any of the following treatments:

  • Warm Salt Water Rinse: A warm salt water rinse can be your first line of defense in relieving your child’s tooth pain at home. Salt kills bacteria, and a saltwater rinse will help dispel bacteria. In contrast, the warm water soothes irritation in the mouth.
  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress on your child’s cheek nearest to the site that is the source of tooth pain for your child. The application of a cold compress is generally used to reduce swelling and ease tooth pain for your child.
  • Over-the-Counter Medicine: Remember to follow the correct dosage for your child when administering anti-inflammatory medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve tooth pain.
  • Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse: A solution of diluted hydrogen peroxide can be helpful when treating a toothache. However, hydrogen peroxide can be very dangerous if swallowed. A mixture of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water used as a mouthwash will help relieve pain from a toothache.
  • Peppermint Tea Bags: While it may seem odd, peppermint tea bags can be an easy and effective method to soothe a child’s toothache. Placing peppermint tea bags in the freezer and placing them in your child’s mouth will help relax and relieve your child’s toothache.

After Treatment Care

after treatment care

In a circumstance that requires your child to have an emergency dental procedure, your child may need some monitoring and additional treatment post-operation. Your kid’s dentist in Carson City will provide you with all your child’s necessary aftercare information. Generally, aftercare for specific procedures will be as follows:

  • Local Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is commonly used in many dental procedures. Essential aftercare for local anesthesia is ensuring your child does not play or excessively use numb areas of their mouth, lips, tongue, or cheek to avoid injury. Regional anesthesia should wear off within one or two hours.
  • Extractions: Gauze will be provided after tooth extraction and should be kept on the extraction site for roughly 30 minutes after the procedure. Gauze can be replaced if bleeding continues or starts again.
  • Swelling: Treat swelling after your child’s procedure with an ice pack to reduce inflammation.

Helping your child navigate tooth pain can be difficult and stressful. Knowing how to determine what kinds of tooth pain constitute an emergency and what types can be dealt with at home is essential information. Whether treating tooth pain at home or seeking emergency dental services, you will now have an informed approach to either situation for you and your child. For more information on dental services and cosmetic dentistry in Reno, consult your local children’s dentist.


1Caring For Your Child After Treatment. (2021).

2Shea, J. (2020). Is Your Kid’s Tooth Pain a Dental Emergency?.

3What Steps Should I Take If My Child Has A Dental Emergency?. (2020).

4What To Do When Your Child Has Tooth Pain. (2022).

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