What are the different causes of toothache in children?

toothache causes in children

Toothache in children can be caused by several underlying conditions. The symptoms in each child are seen differently and each child experiences them in different ways as well.

Some children have a throbbing pain in the tooth, some will have the pain worsening after the tooth is touched or when chewing food. Some children will have their gums feeling tender and painful. Many have fever as one of the most prominent symptoms, and some feel tired and weak all over.

Toothache is diagnosed at the dental clinic with an oral examination and a detailed medical history. This will help provide information on underlying conditions or genetic conditions in the dental makeup of the child. Usually, this is followed by the dentist using X-rays to check for any underlying condition that is not easily visible. The dental check-up will help to narrow down the primary causes of the dental problems, and treatment is decided according to the diagnosis.


Tooth decay

This is one of the most common reasons for toothache in children. Tooth decay is caused when the outer dental enamel of the tooth is eroded and the tooth is damaged.

Sugary food stays in the mouth if it is not cleaned properly. The food will stick to the crevices of the teeth and also between the teeth. Sugary food attracts bacterial action; bacteria will act on the food that is left behind and release acid in the process. This acid slowly erodes the tooth surface and damage the tooth.

The strong dental enamel on the tooth surface gets stripped off and thus the tooth decay starts. If this is left unchecked, the decay spreads slowly to the tooth interior and damages the whole tooth.  Pain is felt when the damage reaches the core of the tooth where the nerve endings of the tooth are present. Unchecked tooth decay triggers toothache as the damage progresses, and there are chances of this decay spreading to neighbouring teeth as well.


Tooth abscess

This condition of the teeth can be considered as tooth decay that has progressed to a worrying degree. It is often seen with a pimple formed at the base of the tooth. It happens when tooth decay has progressed and has reached the tooth root. The infection has advanced and will affect the tooth root. The toothache will be experienced as a throbbing toothache now.

Some will also experience a distaste in the mouth due to infection. When the tooth root is affected, the structure and function of the tooth are affected. As the infection reaches the tooth root and is left unchecked, the infection spreads to the bone and any new tooth that is being formed will also be infected. This will result in dental development being affected due to decay. When the infection is at this stage, it is important that a dentist appointment is made at the earliest and the child is given dental care immediately.


Toothache Gum diseases

Toothache is felt when there is an infection in the gum lining. The gum lining gets irritated and inflamed and sometimes there is bleeding and pain from the gums. Pain is felt in the tooth that has gum infection and it is painful to touch. Bleeding can happen while brushing.

When brushing and flossing of teeth is not done properly in children, plaque builds up on the surface of teeth. This plaque will cause irritation in the gum lining. The infection spreads to the gum lining. The infected gum lining will not be able to support the tooth and brings in tooth decay.

The dental framework of the child is affected and the dental problem progresses to a more serious condition when gum disease is left unchecked.


Grinding teeth

Many children have the habit of teeth grinding or bruxism. Some children have this condition accompanying tooth decay or without tooth decay.

While sleeping children grind their teeth, this grinding will wear away the dental enamel and bring in tooth sensitivity. The tooth loses its structure and function and brings in tooth decay. Wearing down the teeth will affect the health of the gums as increased pressure is felt on the tooth.

Teeth grinding is not a permanent situation in children, it goes away after a few years. Usually, the condition is seen in children who are anxious and their sleep is affected. Though this condition does not cause serious dental issues, it is important that the issue is checked when the dental health of the child is affected.


Tooth fracture

A cracked tooth or enamel brings enormous pain. This fracture can be caused while biting into a hard object, trauma or injury to the tooth. Some children who have teeth grinding issues, also experience tooth fractures. It is not always that the fractured or crack in the tooth is seen visibly. Some fracture/crack can also be below the gum lining or they can be very small that it goes unnoticed. But it will be accompanied by pain, discomfort and increased tooth sensitivity. The tooth is damaged and it becomes difficult to chew the food. Along with the toothache, pain is also felt in the gum lining due to the pressure applied on the tooth that is cracked.


Toothache dental care

Toothache is seen as a common symptom of a variety of dental issues in children. The most common reason for toothache is decay which can be taken care of with proper dental hygiene measures. Brushing twice a day and flossing will help to prevent plaque formation in the tooth. Along with following good oral hygiene it is important that children follow a healthy lifestyle and good food habits as all these contribute to dental development. Following all the above does not guarantee that dental issues do not occur, when they occur, it is important that dental check-ups are conducted and expert advice from dentists is sought.


If your child experiences toothache, bad breath, or any dental issues, get them checked at your nearest dental clinic at the earliest. Providing care at the right time will prevent the diseases from progressing and causing more trouble in the future.



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