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Is My Child's Toothache Considered an Emergency?

 Is My Child's Toothache Considered an Emergency?

One of the hardest parts of parenting is watching your child be in pain. A toothache is one of the most common painful medical issues a child can experience.

One of the most common questions our pediatric dental team, Staci Brunell, DMD, and Priyanka Patel, DMD, gets asked at Yorktown Pediatric Dentistry in Yorktown Heights, New York, is “What do I do when my child experiences a toothache?” Find out if a toothache is a dental emergency and what to do when your child experiences one.

What is a toothache?

Any painful or aching tooth is considered a toothache in children or adults. Toothaches usually come from some type of damage to the tooth.

Often, a tooth that hurts comes from inner damage to the tooth, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or an infection. A toothache can also result from external trauma if your child gets hit in the mouth or chews on something overly sharp.

Symptoms of a toothache

The most common symptom of a toothache is when your child complains of a throbbing, aching, or dull pain localized to their tooth. Depending on the cause of the toothache, they might also experience:

Your child might also experience swelling around the jaw or neck in more severe toothaches.

Is a toothache a dental emergency?

A toothache is a sign your child has an urgent dental issue that needs treatment. The type of toothache determines whether your child needs emergency care.

If your child is experiencing a dull or mild toothache, there’s a good chance they have a cavity that needs to be filled. For this type of toothache, our team schedules your child for an appointment as quickly as possible to evaluate and treat the tooth.

Before the appointment, you can help lower your child’s pain with the appropriate dosage of over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Rinsing the tooth with warm salt water also helps reduce discomfort.

On the other hand, some types of toothaches require immediate, emergency care. Call us, come to our office, or visit the emergency room after hours if your child is experiencing:

All of these symptoms can indicate a serious issue, such as infection or injury, that requires immediate treatment.

Treating a toothache

The treatment our team recommends depends on the reason for your child’s toothache. We determine the issue using methods like a dental examination, listening to the symptoms your child is experiencing, and diagnostic tools like X-rays.

Our team's treatments can include cavity fillings, antibiotics, tooth extractions, and additional pain relief. Our team advises you on the best course of action after examining your child.

Preventing future toothaches

Most toothaches in children are preventable with good oral hygiene and care. You can reduce your child’s risk of cavities with twice daily brushing, flossing, drinking water with fluoride, and eating a healthy diet low in simple starches and sweets.

You can also prevent painful tooth injuries by having your child wear a mouthguard and helmet when participating in risky activities. Also, keep hard foods or objects away from your child that they could place into their mouth and injure their teeth.

If your child is experiencing a toothache, contact us or visit us immediately, and our team will advise you on the best course of action. 

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