Toothaches are one of the most disruptive types of pain we deal with. Dental pain can occur in adults as well as children. Just because your child has baby teeth or brand new permanent teeth doesn’t mean they are invincible to pain. In addition, tooth pain in kids doesn’t always mean a cavity. Nonetheless, dental pain of any kind needs to be addressed by a dentist – whether you are 6 or 60!
Causes of Childhood Toothaches
Toothaches in children aren’t always cause for alarm, and they aren’t always within your control either. Just like older patients, there are numerous reasons why a pediatric patient may complain of tooth pain. Here are a few of the most common causes:
While not the only cause for tooth pain, decay is the most common when it comes to kids. Children are especially vulnerable to decay, often due to beginner brushing skills or poor eating/drinking habits. A cavity means that there is a small hole in the outer enamel layer of the tooth. This can make the inner tooth nerves may be more exposed, which leads to pain.
When decay goes untreated or when the tooth is cracked or damaged in some way, bacteria can enter the inner tooth pulp and cause an infection. This type of inflammation and pain can be especially uncomfortable for a small child.
Kids can get gum disease too! If bacteria and plaque are not cleaned from the teeth and gums in a diligent and timely manner, the gums will become irritated, inflamed and infected. As the infection destroys soft tissues and underlying bone, pain is often a symptom.
Sometimes dental discomfort is not from disease, infection or decay. Rather, the pain may be stemming from the jaw or the constant wear and tear on teeth that grind throughout the night. Teeth grinding, known as bruxism, is a common occurrence for kids – especially during sleep. While your child may not know they are doing it at night, teeth grinding often presents with telltale signs during the day. Your child may complain of sensitive teeth or a sore jaw when biting down or opening their mouth.
The above causes of childhood tooth pain are the same as those that adults face. And just the same as adults, toothaches in kids need to be properly diagnosed and treated. Keep in mind that your child may have difficulty pinpointing their pain, or they may refer to their jaw or gum pain as “teeth pain.” Only a dentist can perform the necessary imaging and evaluation to determine where the pain is coming from. At Gilreath Dental Associates, we are equipped to treat all types of tooth pain in patients of all ages. Don’t ignore your child’s dental discomfort – we can help!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,