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Children's Symptoms > Mouth / Teeth / Throat Symptoms > Toothache
Toothache

DEFINITION

  • Pain or discomfort in a tooth
  • Not due to an injury

Causes

  • Main Cause: tooth decay
  • Food wedged between the teeth
  • Injured tooth

Tooth Abscess and Severe Pain

  • A tooth abscess can cause severe pain not controlled by non-prescription pain medicines.
  • Root canal therapy by an endodontist is needed to cure this problem.
  • In the meantime, if your child's dental office is closed, your doctor or dentist can bring the pain under control within hours by calling in a prescription for penicillin or amoxicillin.

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If


WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR

Call Your Dentist or Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Fever is present
  • Face is swollen
  • Severe pain and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Dentist Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Toothache present over 24 hours
  • Brown cavity visible in the painful tooth
  • Red or yellow lump present at the gumline of the painful tooth

Call Your Dentist During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild toothache present less than 24 hours and you don't think your child needs to be seen

HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD TOOTHACHE

  1. Reassurance: Most toothaches are temporary and due to a sensitive tooth. If the pain becomes worse or doesn't resolve in 24 hours, it could be due to a small cavity.
  2. Floss: Floss on either side of the painful tooth to remove any wedged food.
  3. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief.
  4. Local Cold: Apply a cold pack or ice in a wet washcloth to the painful jaw for 20 minutes.
  5. Expected Course: Most minor causes of toothache resolve in less than a day.
  6. Call Your Dentist If:
    • Toothache persists over 24 hours
    • The toothache becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 8/1/2011

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.


Additional Resources:

 How to use the Adult Health Topics pages
 When to call the doctor
 Reviewers of Clinical Content

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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