What to Do If Your Child Has an Unexpected Toothache

No child likes having a toothache, and parents, we understand that when the dentist office isn’t open or you are out of town, it can be especially concerning.

The first rule of thumb for tooth pain is that if it hurts, there is probably something happening in your child’s mouth that requires treatment. Let’s look at a few ways to prevent, treat and troubleshoot the pain, so you can learn what to do at home to care for your child until you are able to visit the office.

The best first step is prevention! Ensure your child sees us twice a year for a checkup so we can catch cavities before they cause any pain. If the cavity ship has already sailed or the pain won’t go away:

  • Floss – Use dental floss between the teeth where your child feels pain. Food and objects can get caught in the small spaces between your child’s teeth. If you floss in the area, you may be surprised to find the cause of your child’s pain and be able to relieve it quickly.


  • Treating the Pain – It’s important to remember that there is no clinical data on the effectiveness of topical pain relief gels and we do not recommend them. They can irritate the gums and cause other issues. Instead, give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to temporarily relieve the inflammation and pain. Applying ice to the area or just outside on the cheek or jaw area near the tooth will also help.


  • Avoiding Infection – Have your child rinse with warm salt water at least 4 times per day. A good schedule woud include rinsing after meals and before bedtime. This will help alleviate the potential for infection and flush the area of debris and bacteria.

Medplex has a special number for emergencies that you can retrieve from the outgoing message when calling our main number after hours. Please do not message us on social media as we may not get your message as quickly and we wouldn’t want you to wait. Contact us immediately if your child’s pain is severe or shows signs of infection, such as:


    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Medplex Pediatric Dentistry serves as a top-rated pediatric dentist for Alabaster, Birmingham, Calera, Chelsea, Hoover, Helena, and Pelham, AL.