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What Causes Gum Pain in Children?

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Gum pain in children is fairly common as there are lots of things in childhood that affect these soft, sensitive tissues—like emerging teeth, childhood accidents, and even certain foods. However, tooth and gum pain alike that is recurring or increasing in intensity is something you should take notice of. If the symptoms refuse to go away with home treatment, you might need to seek out a children’s dental center for help. Fortunately, there are plenty of child gum pain treatments available once you know the causes and symptoms.

What Causes Gum Pain in Children?

Children have soft, sensitive gums that are very reactive to things that might cause pain. The most common time when children will experience gum pain is when they are teething, usually between the ages of 1 and 3, and the symptoms will be fairly obvious. (Fussiness, crying, overstimulation, etc.) As children get older, gum pain causes can include eating sharp or crunchy food like chips or certain candy, and accidental falls or other trauma while playing.

In instances of trauma or injury, parents should seek the help of a children’s emergency dentist if their child is bleeding profusely, unable to talk, or they otherwise lose normal function of their mouths, or if pain and swelling don’t subside after a few hours. However, gum pain caused in children can also come from gum diseases like gingivitis, which can lead to infection, decay, and even more serious problems if untreated.

Typical Symptoms of Gum Disease

Most children with gum disease have what is called gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease that usually causes red, swollen, and tender gums. There are other symptoms to look out for as well, including:

  • Gums that bleed when your child brushes or flosses
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth that show greater than normal spacing
  • Persistent bad breath

While these symptoms aren’t considered dire or dangerous, children can experience severe gum disease if they go untreated for long. If you notice these symptoms, take your child to their healthcare provider or dentist for a diagnosis.

How to Prevent Your Child’s Sore Gums

Preventing gum pain in children comes down to paying attention to when they experience pain and noticing any patterns. If their gums hurt after eating certain types of food, limit their intake or prevent it altogether. Preventing injuries that can cause gum pain can be achieved by making your child wear a mouthguard while playing sports or doing other physical activities, as well as encouraging them to run with their head up and eyes forward to avoid obstacles.

If your child’s gum pain is caused by gum disease, the best method of prevention is establishing a good oral care routine for your child. Teach them to brush their teeth twice per day with fluoride toothpaste and an appropriately sized, soft-bristled brush, and to floss in the evening before bed. Finally, even a good home care routine still requires children’s dental cleaning from your pediatric dentist at least twice per year, where they can also be examined for gum disease and potential risk factors.

How to Take Care of Your Child at Home?

If your child is experiencing mild soreness, there are a few child gum pain treatments you can try at home:

  • To reduce discomfort and inflammation in your child’s gums, use an ice pack or cold compress for 10-20 minutes at a time. Be sure to have a thin cloth between the ice and your kid’s skin to avoid any damage from direct contact with the pack. Heat should be avoided as it can exacerbate pain and swelling instead of decreasing them.
  • If your child has been prescribed antibiotics, you must continue administering them in accordance with the doctor’s instructions. Don’t be fooled by any improvements they may have already experienced—it is essential that they take the entire course of medication!
  • To alleviate discomfort and inflammation, administer ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to your child. For safety purposes, read the label carefully before administering any medication. Be sure that you understand all of the instructions so that you can ensure the correct dosage and usage for maximum effectiveness.
  • If hot, cold, or overly sugary foods and drinks spike your child’s pain levels, it is best to avoid giving them. For gum pain relief, rinse with warm salt water every two hours. From the age of 8 and up children can do this themselves – simply mix 5 grams (or one teaspoon) of salt into 250 milliliters (8 fluid ounces) of water.
  • To help your child avoid discomfort when eating hot or cold food and while brushing their teeth, speak with your dentist about using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. For optimal gum pain relief, have them brush with this on a regular basis and also apply it directly to the tender area, every now and then using just one clean finger.

There are plenty of gum pain causes that children experience, and few of them are cause for alarm. Still, make sure you are paying attention to your child’s symptoms, and if they get worse over time or simply refuse to go away, it’s important to call your child’s dentist and schedule an appointment for an exam. If that time comes, Northern Nevada Childrens Dental and Orthodontics has years of experience in treating children and can provide solutions for your child’s gum pain in a supportive, welcoming environment. Call today to make your first appointment!

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