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Your child comes to you holding the side of his face. His pained expression immediately tells you something is wrong. He tells you about a pain in his tooth, and you call the dentist. The earliest appointment you can get two days from now. What do you do until then?
Causes of Tooth Ache
The sugar in your child's diet breaks is broken down into acid by ever-present bacteria in the mouth. The acid attacks tooth enamel. This process leads to enamel erosion and, eventually, cavities and exposed roots or nerves. Tooth ache occurs when the decay approaches the small blood vessels and nerves in the pulp chamber.
Ask your child to show you which tooth is affected. Using a pen light, check for ulcers, irritations, noticeably swollen gums or a piece of food lodged between teeth. All of these things can feel like tooth pain but are not directly related to cavities.
The dentist should be your first call for tooth ache pain. If he can't see your child for a few days, there are some remedies you can try beyond acetaminophenand Anbesol. Remember never to give children or teens products containing aspirin as it increases the risk of developing Reye's Syndrome.
• Rub clove oil on the affected tooth. It may be more painful for a brief period of time, but it should alleviate the pain. If your child won't let you apply the oil, allow him to place it on his finger and do so himself. Children older than age 7 should be able to handle this.
• Small cubes of potato or cucumber cooled in the refrigerator make ideal mini ice packs. Tell your child to place the cooled cube against the painful tooth. This may be a better option than oil of clove for younger children.
• Place a small amount of dried mint leaf around the painful tooth. Tell your child to spit every few minutes.
• A warm, damp towel or an ice pack applied to the jaw line on the affected side may help your child's tooth ache as well.
• Salt water mouthwash is good for treating infections, ulcers and numerous other mouth conditions. Mix about 1 tsp. of table salt into a glass of warm water and have your child rinse his mouth with the solution. Repeat every few hours. Supervise younger children to ensure they don't swallow the salt water.
• Distract your child from the pain. Let him curl up in a comfy chair while you read him a story or allow him to watch a favorite video. You can play board games with him or listen to music while waiting for your dental appointment.