Approximately 520 million children suffer from cavities in their permanent teeth. While these are common causes of tooth pain in children, they’re not the only ones. Without treatment, many causes of a toothache get worse.

But, what are the common causes of toothaches in kids and how do you know when to go to the dentist?

In this article, we discuss some of the most common causes of tooth and gum pain in children. We also tell you when a child’s toothache is an emergency. Continue reading so you don’t have to wonder. 

Tooth Eruption

One of the common causes of tooth pain in children is the eruption of a new tooth. This just means that a tooth is starting to emerge from beneath the gum line. This happens with baby teeth and permanent teeth.

As the tooth pushes through the gum tissue, chewing can be more painful for children. They may also have more sensitivity to extreme temperatures than normal. Any pain should resolve once the new tooth emerges.

Loose Teeth

Loose baby teeth are not one of the common causes of a toothache in children, but that doesn’t mean that can’t be painful. When a permanent tooth comes in, it can push against the gum and baby tooth and cause pain.

If the pain is from a loose adult tooth, this can be a more serious problem. It can mean the tooth was damaged in some way. It can also be an indication of an infection or diseased tooth. 


Pediatric dental care involves eating the right foods. Hard foods or those high in sugar or acid can lead to tooth pain in kids. This is more common in children prone to sensitive teeth or those with underlying dental problems.

Eating healthy foods and getting the recommended amount of calcium each day can help avoid toothaches in kids. If the problem continues or gets worse, your pediatric dentist in Spanish Fork should take a look. 

Aggressive Brushing

You wouldn’t think of toothbrushing as one of the causes of a toothache, but it can happen. If children brush their teeth too aggressively or too often, they can wear down the enamel covering their teeth. 

They may accidentally scrape or bruise their gums in the process. Toothbrushes with bristles that are too firm can also wear down tooth enamel and lead to increased sensitivity. 

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a possible cause of a child’s toothache but it may be hard to see at first. Children don’t typically experience pain in the early stages of tooth decay and its usually minor if they do. 

Cavities left untreated get worse over time and lead to more pain and sensitivity. This can happen when children don’t brush their teeth or see their pediatric dentist in Spanish Fork regularly.

Understanding Cavities

When children don’t brush their teeth regularly, bacteria that occur naturally in the mouth feed on the leftover sugars. As the bacteria eat the sugar, they release acid, which wears down your enamel. 

Clenching or Grinding Teeth

Some children clench or grind their teeth, which is a condition known as Bruxism. This can happen during the day or at night and can occur for different reasons depending on other factors and symptoms.

The behavior often results in tooth or gum pain in children. They may also experience an aching jaw and eroding tooth enamel. A night guard can help protect teeth if the problem is ongoing. 

Damaged Teeth

If your child comes to you complaining of dental pain, be sure to ask about trauma. Children playing sports or other games may not realize the damage tripping or a bump to the face can do to their mouth.

Tooth pain in children can be caused by broken or chipped teeth as well as trauma to the gum. These injuries may not be easy to see without the proper equipment. Mouth guards can help prevent this kind of trauma.

Gum Disease

Scheduling regular kid’s teeth cleaning appointments is an important part of pediatric dental care because it can catch early signs of gum disease. While the issue starts in the gums, it can lead to toothaches in kids.

When the tissue in the gums swells, it can damage children’s jaws and teeth. This leads to weakened bones and discomfort. 

Tooth Abscess

Untreated cavities and tooth decay can lead to an infection in the tooth and/or gums such as a tooth abscess. If a child’s toothache is throbbing, this can be an indication of an infection or abscess and needs to be treated.

How to Relieve Tooth Pain in Children at Home

Most of the causes of a toothache should be treated by a pediatric dentist in Spanish Fork, especially if they aren’t improving. However, there are a few things you can do to keep your child comfortable until their appointment. 

Saltwater Rinse

For mild toothaches in kids, try a mixture of warm water and a teaspoon of table salt. Have your child swish the water around their mouth for a few seconds before spitting into the sink.

Salt can help reduce inflammation and it also serves as a disinfectant. It can also act as a mild kid’s teeth cleaning by washing away any food stuck between the teeth. 

Cold Compress

If a salt water rinse isn’t soothing enough, you can try using a cold compress to relieve tooth or gum pain in children. A cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel can reduce swelling or gently numb the pain.

Apply the compress for up to 20 minutes every few hours. Avoid putting the cold pack or ice directly on the skin. 

Over-the-Counter Medication

In cases of moderate to severe tooth pain in kids, a mild over-the-counter medication may be appropriate. Stick with pediatrician-approved medications such as those used for headaches to relieve the pain. 

When Is a Child’s Toothache an Emergency?

Mild dental pain can wait for the first available appointment with your dentist. However, more severe symptoms can be signs of an emergency. Some of these signs are listed below.

  • Severe dental pain
  • Diagonal or verticle tooth chip or crack
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Pus or discoloration

If your child has any of the above symptoms, finding ’emergency pediatric dental care near me,’ should be your top priority. 

Don’t Ignore Tooth Pain in Children

Tooth pain in children isn’t always a dental emergency, but it’s typically something that should be treated by a dentist. Keep your child comfortable until they can be seen but be sure to schedule an appointment.

If your child’s toothache isn’t getting better, contact us at The Kid Dentist. for an appointment.