Toothache

Is this your child's symptom?

  • Pain or discomfort in a tooth
  • Not caused by an injury

If NOT, try one of these:


Causes of a Toothache

  • Tooth Decay. If the pain persists more than a day, this is the most common cause. A yellow-brown defect in the enamel may be seen. The most common site is the surface of one of the molars. The pain is dull.
  • Dental Abscess. If the pain is severe and throbbing, the decay has become a tooth abscess. That means a pus pocket has formed within the root of the tooth. Tapping on the tooth causes increased pain. If not treated, the abscess will erode through the bone. A "gum boil" or pimple will be seen below the gum line. The patient needs to see a dentist for a root canal.
  • Cracked Enamel. Biting on a hard object by mistake can crack a tooth. The tooth becomes sensitive to hot and cold liquids. The tooth may look normal. The fracture line may be below the gum line or just hard to see.
  • Gum Disease. Gingivitis is a medical name for irritated gums. They are red and tender. If tooth brushing and flossing are ignored, the gums may even bleed. Can be very painful. Responds to getting the teeth cleaned and daily flossing.
  • Stuck Food. Hard food may become wedged between 2 teeth. Proper flossing will remove the food and stop the pain.

Tooth Abscess and Severe Pain

  • A tooth abscess can cause severe pain not controlled by normal pain medicines.
  • Root canal therapy by an endodontist is needed to cure this problem.
  • In the meantime, call your dentist's office. If you can't reach your dentist, call your doctor for advice. They can often bring the pain under control by calling in a prescription. Most often, this is for an antibiotic such as penicillin.

When to Call for Toothache

When to Call for Toothache

Self Care at Home

  • Mild toothache present less than 24 hours

Self Care at Home

  • Mild toothache present less than 24 hours

Care Advice for Mild Toothache

  1. What You Should Know About Toothaches:
    • Most toothaches don't last too long. They are due to a sensitive tooth.
    • If the pain becomes worse or doesn't go away in 24 hours, call your dentist. The pain could be due to a small cavity.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Floss:
    • Floss on either side of the painful tooth to remove any wedged food.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  4. Cold Pack for Pain:
    • Put a cold pack or ice in a wet washcloth on the painful jaw. Do this for 20 minutes.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Most minor causes of toothache go away in less than a day.
  6. Call Your Dentist If:
    • Toothache lasts more than 24 hours
    • The toothache gets worse
    • You think your child needs to be seen

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Denver Pediatrics

What Our Patients Say:

I absolutely love this office, and everyone, from the doctors, nurses, and medial assistants to the entire front and back office teams, is exceptional and incredibly caring. We also happen to live in the Stapleton area, but I feel so lucky to have such an excellent pediatric office so close. I haven’t seen every provider, but we have had several and we love them all. Now not every provider is going to be a good fit for every family, but that’s what great - this practice has a variety of personalities. However, I have found all of them to be extremely knowledgeable, personable, caring and patient - I know our PCP is superb and I refer this practice all the time. Additionally, I have called their triage line several times and have received excellent advice. They also provide forms and fill prescription refills in a timely manner. Additionally, their office hours are good, and I believe during the winter months, then tend to provide a Saturday clinic, which is awesome. Overall, unless we move, we are staying with Stapleton Pediatrics. My only hope is that the practice grows. Katie Jan 15,2015

Stapleton Office

2975 Roslyn Street
Suite 100
Denver, CO 80238

303-399-7900
FAX: 303-399-7999

MONDAY-FRIDAY: 8am to 5pm
SATURDAY: 8am to 12:30pm

  • Sick Visits only on Saturdays
  • Our Denver pediatrics office is closed every day from 12:30-1:30 for lunch
  • We are closed on major holidays
Mother and kids with giraffe at zoo

Pearl Street Office

1258 South Pearl Street
Suite 110
Denver, CO 80210

303-399-7970
FAX: 303-399-7905

MONDAY-FRIDAY: 8am to 5pm 
SATURDAY: Closed

  • Saturday sick appts seen at Stapleton Pediatrics office only
  • Our office is closed every day from 12:30-1:30 for lunch
  • We are closed on major holidays
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