A toothache is no fun for anyone, but it is especially frustrating for young children that can't quite verbalize their discomfort clearly. If you are the parent of a toddler or young preschooler, it's a good idea to know what to look for so you can get them to the dentist at the first sign of discomfort.
Sign #1: Chewing and gnawing
One of the first signs of tooth pain in many young children is that they begin chewing or gnawing on things they normally wouldn't, such as toys or even their own hand. This is similar to teething, in that they are trying to relieve the pain. They may also be rubbing the sore area, as opposed to chewing, especially if there is a mild infection in the gum.
Sign #2: Irritability
Increased irritability is to be expected with dental pain. This may also include an inability to sleep, which will further add to the irritability. Irritability on its own doesn't indicate dental issues, but it is a good indicator if you notice it in conjunction with any of the other signs.
Sign #3: Hot or cold sensitivity
Cavities, cracked teeth, and other tooth issues often first surface as sensitivity. You may notice that your child refuses to eat certain foods that were previously favorites, such as warm soups or cold ice cream. This is because items on the extreme ends of the temperature range are more likely to irritate a dental problem.
Sign #4:Swollen cheeks or neck
An infection or dental abscess may be visible on the outside. You may notice that your child's face looks swollen or lopsided. Often, the lymph nodes in the neck also swell up as they try to fight the dental infection. Once you have ruled out a virus, it's time to look for a tooth issue.
Sign #5: Fever
Infections and even other minor dental issues often result in a low grade fever in a child. This is because young children often react to any slight pain with a fever. If you notice they have been holding their mouth or if they have a fever in conjunction with any of the other signs above, then you need to have their mouth checked out.
Contact a pediatric dentist at offices like Alaska Dentistry For Kids in your area if you have any concerns about your child's dental health. The sooner you have it treated, the less likely that it will become a major issue.