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Does this describe your child's symptoms?



  • Pain or discomfort in a tooth

  • Not due to an injury


  • Main Cause: tooth decay

  • Food wedged between the teeth

  • Injured tooth

Tooth Abscess and Severe Pain

  • A tooth abscess can cause severe pain not controlled by non-prescription pain medicines.

  • Root canal therapy by an endodontist is needed to cure this problem.

  • In the meantime, if your child's dental office is closed, your doctor or dentist can bring the pain under control within hours by calling in a prescription for penicillin or amoxicillin.

If not, see these topics


When to Call Your Doctor

call now

Call Your Dentist or Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick

  • Fever is present

  • Face is swollen

  • Severe pain and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine

  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

call within 24 hours

Call Your Dentist Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently

  • Toothache present over 24 hours

  • Brown cavity visible in the painful tooth

  • Red or yellow lump present at the gumline of the painful tooth

call within 24 hours

Call Your Dentist During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

home care

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild toothache present less than 24 hours and you don't think your child needs to be seen



  1. Reassurance: Most toothaches are temporary and due to a sensitive tooth. If the pain becomes worse or doesn't resolve in 24 hours, it could be due to a small cavity.

  2. Floss: Floss on either side of the painful tooth to remove any wedged food.

  3. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief.

  4. Local Cold: Apply a cold pack or ice in a wet washcloth to the painful jaw for 20 minutes.

  5. Expected Course: Most minor causes of toothache resolve in less than a day.

  6. Call Your Dentist If:

    • Toothache persists over 24 hours

    • The toothache becomes worse

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

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