We take a look at common reasons kiddos get toothaches, and what can be done about them.

On average, elementary aged children lose a total of six days of school every year to tooth aches. Just tooth aches, not the half dozen colds that will keep them out, not flu season or broken bones. Six days just for sore teeth. We completely agree that the best idea is to keep them home when their teeth are hurting. In fact, a toothache can be disruptive to more than their own day. The tension and anxiety the discomfort causes can be a burden on the whole class.

A toothache is much more than a pain in the mouth, but can lead to anxiety, lethargy, and disruptive behavior. You keep your regular dental appointments and curb the sugar cravings to help them avoid the pain, but sometimes oral health issues happen. It’s hard to see our little ones suffering, and when a toothache seems to come out of nowhere, it’s a helpless feeling for all of us who care about our small people.

Today let’s look at some of the most common causes of pediatric tooth pain, how to avoid it, and where you can find relief!


Chipped Tooth

You may not even be able to see the damage, but there is no denying the discomfort. While they can vary in severity, a chipped tooth can expose sensitive nerves, meaning that eating, drinking, and even allowing air to pass over the tooth can quickly become unbearable. There is no need to panic, but give us a call as soon as you can so we can help you decide on your next steps.

Depending on the amount of trauma involved, West Maple will make an emergency appointment to treat your child. The treatment can be as minor as reshaping the tooth to avoid further trauma to the mouth. More severe damage may require bonding or a crown, and the damage can compound the longer you wait for treatment.


By the time a cavity has become painful, it’s usually pretty severe. For some children, cavity onset can be very rapid, and the only way to stop the damage from advancing is to fill the cavity. Rinsing with warm salt water can reduce the pain while you wait for your child’s appointment.



Whether your child is a night-time grinder, or if they experience anxiety that causes them to grind day and night, it can lead to a real headache for the whole family!

Not only does your child likely have a great deal of tooth sensitivity from grinding, clenching, or tongue-thrusting, but they likely experience headaches and lethargy from the act, as well. Bring your child in to be fitted for a night guard, and try practicing Lion’s Breath before bed and whenever your child is finding themselves tense or anxious.

  • Start by having your child inhale deeply
  • While doing so, instruct them to draw their shoulders tightly into their ears and scrunch the muscles in their face
  • As they exhale, have them stick out their tongue as far as they can and open their eyes wide
  • Repeat 3-5 times

This practice can help relax the muscles in their face and jaw, relieving the tension that leads to clenching and grinding.


Loose Tooth

This is tricky business! You may feel strongly that a loose tooth is just begging to be pulled, but truly, a tooth will come out when it’s ready. If it falls out too soon, the surround teeth will move quickly to take its place. Sometimes more quickly than the tooth that was meant to replace it. Instead, offer your child some children’s Tylenol if the discomfort becomes too much, and be sure that the tooth is being thoroughly flossed and brushed multiple times a day. Remember, a tooth fairy won’t pay for a dirty tooth!

If you feel that your child’s tooth has been hanging on too long and is causing a problem, bring it up to our team. We can discuss pulling the tooth and placing a spacer.


Ear Infection

There is a reason that the person who treats an ear infection is called an ear nose and throat specialist. The connection between the three can mean that a sinus infection can feel like an ear infection, and can eventually lead to one. A tooth ache can often feel like an ear ache, and the same is true of the reverse. If your child’s toothache isn’t diagnosable at West Maple, your next stop should be an ENT. Your little one’s tooth ache is probably in their ear!


It’s never easy to see your child suffering, and we will do everything we can to help them heal quickly! But remember that you’re doing an excellent job by keeping them well fed, in great health, and by being there with a cuddle when they’re feeling less than their best.


West Maple Pediatric Dentistry is proud to have some of the best parent partners in the business, and we are thankful for all you do to keep your sweeties smiling! Thank you, and thank you for trusting West Maple!


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