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Oral care: How to provide relief to a toothache

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A child experiencing a toothache can be distressing for many parents. Whether a child is teething, has tightened braces or has cavities, a toothache can lead to irritation and discomfort. Until the child is taken to a dentist, there are home remedies that can make the pain tolerable.

Although these remedies could not eliminate the exact cause of the toothache, relief from the pain will allow the child to go through the day. A healthcare professional should be consulted before using any remedies to soothe the toothache.


Oftentimes, an obstruction below the gums or between the teeth can lead to gum pain. A corn kernel might be lodge in between 2 molars which causes intense discomfort. In some cases, brushing the teeth gently and instructing the child to swish warm water and using dental floss can remove the obstruction, thus getting rid of the pain. Even if the obstruction has been removed, some pain might linger. Bring the child to a dentist to ensure that the obstruction is completely removed.

You can apply an ice pack on the cheek of the child for several minutes to check if it helps numb the pain.

Home remedies for toothache

The child does not have to endure the toothache. Some cases respond more effectively to cold temperatures while others work well to warm temperatures. You can apply an ice pack on the cheek of the child for several minutes to check if it helps numb the pain. If the cold helps, instruct the child to swish his/her mouth with cold water.

If cold is not beneficial, instruct the child to swish warm water in his/her mouth. You can provide salt water since it reduces the swelling. All you have to do is prepare the solution with a teaspoon of salt added to an 8 oz. glass of water and instruct the child to take a mouthful, swish around the mouth and spit out.

Over-the-counter medications

If the toothache causes intense pain, over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can greatly help. These medications work by reducing the swelling and can allow the child to talk and eat normally.

Provide the child with the appropriate dosage every 4 hours or as directed on the package instructions. The over-the-counter creams and gels that contain benzocaine are effective in minimizing the toothache, but they should be used as long as approved by the doctor especially for children below 2 years old.

Considerations to bear in mind

The child might have diminished level of appetite once he/she has a toothache. The best way to make eating less painful while having a toothache is to provide the child with soft foods.

If hard foods are eaten, they can irritate the teeth and gums even more. Bland foods are ideal and soothing than spicy foods or those that contain garlic and onions.

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