What To Do When Your Child Loses A Tooth And It Hurts

What To Do When Your Child Loses A Tooth And It Hurts

Losing a baby tooth is a significant milestone in a child’s life. It’s a sign of growing up, often celebrated with tales of the Tooth Fairy and the excitement of the incoming adult tooth. However, the experience can sometimes be less than magical, especially if your child experiences pain or discomfort when a tooth falls out. Read on for more on why pain might occur and what you can do to help your child.

Understanding Tooth Loss in Children

Children typically begin losing their baby teeth around six, continuing until about age 12. This natural process allows for the growth of adult teeth. Most of the time, the loss of a baby tooth is painless. The tooth naturally loosens and detaches as the adult tooth pushes its way up. However, variations in this process can sometimes lead to discomfort.

Common Reasons for Pain


Inflammation occurs as part of the natural process when a new tooth emerges through the gums. This happens because the gum tissue must open or stretch to allow the new tooth to break through and reach its proper position in the mouth. As the tooth pushes its way through the gum, it can cause the surrounding tissue to become inflamed, leading to symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, and discomfort in the affected area. This inflammation is the body’s response to the changes occurring in the gum tissue and is a standard part of teething or the eruption of new teeth, especially in infants and young children, but can also occur with the emergence of adult teeth like wisdom teeth.


When a tooth is unexpectedly knocked out due to an accident or injury, such as a fall or a blow to the face, it can be a more painful experience than a tooth that loosens and falls out in its natural course. This is because a sudden impact can cause trauma not only to the tooth itself but also to the surrounding gums, nerves, and blood vessels. The forceful removal of a tooth can lead to immediate and intense pain as the nerves within the gums and the tooth’s root are disturbed or damaged.


Sometimes, an infection in the area surrounding a tooth or within the gums can lead to discomfort when a tooth is lost. This infection can result from bacteria accumulating in pockets around the tooth or beneath the gum line, leading to inflammation and swelling known as an abscess. Such infections can significantly increase the pain associated with tooth loss because they affect the tooth and irritate and inflame the surrounding gum tissue and bone. The body’s immune response to this infection, aimed at fighting off the bacteria, can intensify the pain and discomfort.

Immediate Steps to Alleviate Pain

When your child loses a tooth and experiences pain, your immediate goal is to provide comfort and relief. Here are 4 steps you can take:

  1. Apply Cold:Use a cold compress or a clean, cold, wet cloth applied to the outside of the cheek to help reduce swelling and numb the pain.
  2. Rinse with Salt Water:Have your child rinse their mouth with warm salt water to cleanse the area and reduce inflammation. Ensure your child is old enough to rinse without swallowing the solution.
  3. Offer Soft Foods:Provide soft foods that require minimal chewing to avoid further irritation in the affected area.
  4. Pain Relief:If the pain is significant, you can consider giving your child age-appropriate over-the-counter pain relief, following the dosage instructions carefully. It’s always a good idea to consult with your child’s paediatrician before administering any medication.

When to See a Dentist

In most cases, the discomfort associated with losing a baby tooth is temporary and manageable with home care. However, these are situations where it’s advisable to consult a dentist:

  • If the pain persists for more than a couple of days
  • If there’s visible swelling in the gums around the lost tooth
  • If there are signs of infection, such as pus or a bad odour from the mouth
  • If the adult tooth is coming in but the baby tooth hasn’t fallen out, leading to crowding or misalignment

Encouraging Good Oral Hygiene

This period of tooth loss is an excellent opportunity to instil good oral hygiene habits in your child. Encourage them to brush their teeth gently but thoroughly twice daily and to floss regularly. If your child is apprehensive about brushing around the area where the tooth was lost, reassure them and demonstrate how to brush gently.

Making the Experience Positive

Despite the potential for discomfort, losing a tooth is a hallmark of growing up, and there are ways to make it a positive experience for your child:

  • Celebrate the milestone with a small gift or allowance from the Tooth Fairy.
  • Use this time to educate your child about the importance of dental health and the exciting process of getting their adult teeth.
  • Reassure your child that the discomfort is temporary and a natural part of growing up.

Long-Term Considerations

As your child continues to lose baby teeth and their adult teeth come in, it’s essential to monitor their dental development. Regular dental check-ups are crucial for ensuring that their teeth are coming in correctly and to address any potential issues early on. An orthodontic evaluation might also be recommended if there are signs of crowding, misalignment, or other issues that could affect your child’s bite and oral health in the long term.


The loss of a baby tooth is a significant event in a child’s life, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. By understanding the potential causes of pain and knowing how to provide relief, you can help your child navigate this rite of passage with minimal discomfort. Remember, fostering good oral hygiene habits during this time is crucial for your child’s long-term dental health. Celebrate each milestone, and support your child through the discomforts, ensuring that the memory of losing their baby teeth is a positive one. With proper care and reassurance, your child will proudly show off their gap-toothed smile in no time.

At Affinity Dental, we are dedicated to making dental care accessible and affordable for you and your family. When you choose one of our dental plans, you can access a vast network of over 2,000 skilled and professional dentists. Our benefits include mouth examination, scale and polish, intraoral radiographs, infection control, and more. Contact Affinity Dental for helpful advice on which dental plan best suits you and your family, and visit a network Dentist for more ways to maintain good oral hygiene in children.

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