3 Steps To Take When Your Child Has A Toothache
One of the hardest things about being a parent is seeing your child in pain. Tooth pain can be particularly tricky. Adults often have trouble finding relief from a toothache, so it can be tough to figure out how best to help your child. However, it can help to have a plan of action for when your child wakes up in the night with tooth pain. Take a look at a few strategies that can help you help your child feel better.
Examine the Sore Area
If your child will cooperate, ask them to open their mouth and show you exactly where it hurts. Not all mouth pain comes from the teeth, and to a small child, it may be easy to confuse pain on the tongue or inner cheek with tooth pain. It's possible that your child bit the inside of their mouth, has a cold sore, or something else unrelated to the teeth.
Look for blisters, ulcers, or red spots. If you see a swollen area or something that looks like a pimple on the gum around a tooth, this can be a sign of a dental abscess – a painful infection. If you find decayed spots on the tooth, known as dental caries, these can also be a source of pain. Make sure to check for loose teeth or newly erupted teeth, as these can hurt as well. Finally, look to see if your child has food caught between their teeth – sometimes a missed food particle can irritate the mouth.
Decide Whether Your Child Needs Medical Attention
Not all tooth pain requires an immediate trip to the doctor or dentist, but some types of tooth pain do. If you find evidence of dental caries or an abscess, you should call your child's dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible to have the problem treated. In the case of an abscess, if you can't get into the dentist immediately, you may also want to take your child to the pediatrician or to the ER or urgent care. A doctor can prescribe an antibiotic for the infection, which can help reduce the pain while you're waiting for a dentist appointment.
Most of the other common causes of children's tooth pain can be treated at home. If your child has food caught between their teeth, flossing should take care of the problem. Loose teeth or sore gums due to newly erupting teeth usually don't require medical attention.
Pain Relief Options
Once you've pinpointed the cause of your child's tooth pain and decided whether or not medical attention is required, it's time to find a way to relieve their pain. Even if you're planning to take them to the doctor or dentist, you'll want to make them more comfortable while they wait. One option is to administer children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Acetaminophen can reduce the pain and help control the fever if your child has an infection. Ibuprofen reduces swelling, so it can be a useful choice if your child's pain is coming from swollen gums. Be sure to follow the dosing instructions for your child's weight – an overdose of over the counter medicine can be very dangerous.
If you prefer to stick with natural pain relief remedies, there are several that are appropriate for children. Clove oil has numbing properties that can reduce pain, but many children find the strong taste unpleasant. You can try putting the oil on your child's fingertip and allowing them to apply it – they may be able to target the painful area more accurately and avoid getting the taste on their tongue. Another option is cut a potato or cucumber in small pieces and cool them in the fridge. Have your child hold a piece on the painful tooth – the cold will sooth the pain. Peppermint also has pain relieving qualities. Placing a wad of dried mint on the painful area is a useful pain relieving remedy that is safe for children.
If you can't find a cause for the pain, or if the pain persists for more than a day, make an appointment with your child's dentist just to be safe. The dentist may be able to find the cause if you can't, or recommend more effective pain relief strategies for your child.
For more information on children's dental care, go to a site like http://www.childrensdent.com.