As a parent, the last thing you want is to see your child uncomfortable in pain. One of the most common complaints children may experience, especially at night, is tooth pain. Tooth pain can cause a lot of distress for your child, disrupting both their sleep and yours. This problem can be caused by several factors and affects children of all ages. In this blog post, we will discuss the potential causes and symptoms of child tooth pain at night, immediate remedies parents can apply, treatment options, and the importance of oral hygiene in children.
What Causes Child Tooth Pain at Night?
The most common cause of child tooth pain at night is inflammation of the tooth pulp. The tooth pulp is the inner of a tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. When the pulp becomes inflamed due to an infection, trauma, or tooth decay, it can cause severe pain in the tooth and surrounding area. The tooth pain can be intense at night when the child tries to sleep because the blood flow to the pulp increases, causing more pressure on the inflamed nerve.
Other causes of child tooth pain at night include:
- Tooth decay: Just like adults, children can also develop cavities. Tooth decay can cause discomfort, pain, and sensitivity in the tooth.
- Tooth abscess: If tooth decay is left untreated, the infection can spread to the tooth pulp, causing inflammation and dental abscess.
- Gingivitis: Children may develop gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Gingivitis can be caused by stuck food particles, poor oral hygiene, mouthbreathing, poor diet, or certain medications. Gingivitis is a reversible condition.
- Oral trauma: If a child experiences an injury to their mouth or teeth due to falls, sports activities, accidents, or other incidents. It can cause inflammation of the pulp and tooth pain at night.
- Tooth cracks and chips: Cracks in teeth can occur due to trauma, tooth grinding or clenching, or eating hard foods. A tooth crack can cause pain and sensitivity when exposed to hot and cold temperatures.
- Coming of new teeth: When your child is teething, it can cause pain and discomfort. New teeth pushing through the gums can irritate the surrounding tissues, leading to pain.
If your child is experiencing tooth pain at night, you should visit their pediatric dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
Signs & Symptoms
The main symptom is a sharp, throbbing pain in the tooth that usually worsens when the child is lying down. The pain can be exacerbated by hot or cold temperatures, pressure on the tooth, or sugary foods and drinks. Other symptoms may include:
- Swelling around the affected tooth and gums
- Difficulty sleeping due to the discomfort
- Bad breath
- Irritability due to the pain
- A fever or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
If your child has any of these symptoms, contact their pediatric dentist immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage to the tooth and mouth.
Home Remedies to Manage Child Tooth Pain at Night
There are several home remedies you can use to help manage your child’s tooth pain while they wait for a professional dental appointment:
- Use over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help reduce the pain and inflammation. Make sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully.
- Clean your child’s teeth with a soft brush and remove stuck food particles from between the teeth with floss.
- Apply a cold compress like an ice pack to the outer jaw area, especially if there is swelling. Hold the compress on and off for a few minutes at a time to prevent any cheek burns caused by the ice.
- Give your child soft foods such as mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal to help them cope with the discomfort.
- Avoid giving sugary drinks and food, as this can make the pain worse.
- Use teething gels to numb the area and provide temporary relief. Teething gels, which contain a mild local anesthetic, can only be obtained from pharmacies. Talk to a pharmacist for advice.
These home remedies can only provide temporary relief and should not replace professional dental care. If your child’s tooth pain persists or gets worse at night, contact their pediatric dentist right away.
Treatment Options for Child Tooth Pain at Night
Your child’s pediatric dentist can provide a range of treatment options, depending on the cause of their tooth pain. These may include:
- Antibiotic therapy: If the toothache is caused by a dental abscess, your child’s dentist may recommend a course of antibiotics to clear the infection.
- Pulpotomy/Pulpectomy for primary teeth: This procedure involves removing the inflamed or infected pulp (nerve) tissue from primary teeth and filling them with a special material.
- Root canal treatment for permanent teeth: The first permanent molars erupt at around 6 years old. If the pulp of these teeth becomes infected or inflamed, your child’s dentist may recommend a root canal procedure to remove the diseased tissue and protect the tooth from further damage.
- Tooth fillings: If the tooth pain is caused by a cavity, your child’s dentist may recommend having it filled. Also, the pedodontist may recommend crowns for kids to restore the shape and function of teeth.
- Professional cleaning: If your child has gingivitis or plaque buildup on their teeth, their dentist may recommend professional cleaning. This will also reduce their risk of getting cavities and other dental issues in the future.
- Extraction: In some cases, the best option may be to extract a primary tooth if it is severely damaged and causing too much pain. After tooth extraction, the pediatric dentist may recommend a space maintainer to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts.
Here are some tips to help your child maintain a healthy mouth and minimize the risk of tooth pain:
- Encourage proper oral hygiene habits: Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flosses once a day.
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks: Sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay, so make sure your child avoids them as much as possible.
- Treat mouth breathing: If your child sleeps with their mouth open or breathes through their mouth, this can cause dryness in the mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay and infection. Schedule an appointment with an ENT doctor if your child is a mouth breather.
- Visit a pediatric dentist regularly: Make sure your child visits the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings every six months. This will help detect and prevent any dental issues before they become more serious.
By following these tips, you can help your child keep their teeth healthy and reduce the risk of tooth pain at night. With professional care and proper home care habits, your child will be able to maintain a healthy mouth.
Child Tooth Pain at Night – Conclusion
Child tooth pain at night is usually caused by inflammation of the tooth pulp as a result of tooth decay or trauma. The tooth pain worsens as the child lies down, making it difficult for them to sleep.
If your child is experiencing tooth pain at night, contact their pediatric dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
While waiting for the pediatric dentist appointment, you can help your child manage their tooth pain with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. The treatment depends on the underlying cause, including fillings, pulpotomy/pulpectomy, root canals, or extraction.