As your toddler ages, they should be able to verbalize a majority of their wants, needs, and distresses. When your toddler is largely nonverbal due to speech delays, autism, or other conditions, it can be difficult to communicate with them on a regular basis. You are likely accustomed to watching for 'cues' that tell you what they need, but when it comes to tooth pain, you need to be ever watchful. Here are signs your toddler may be experiencing tooth pain due to a cavity, sore in their mouth, or a new growing molar.
Your toddler may begin to cry when eating their food, especially as they are chewing or swallowing, or may refuse their meals outright. If your toddler normally loves a certain snack, such as a cheese stick or fruit snacks and they are suddenly shaking their head or pushing their food away, tooth pain may be the cause. Have your toddler open their mouth and look for signs of distress such as bleeding or swollen gums or discoloration on their teeth that can indicate a cavity. If you do find that your toddler has any of these signs, take him or her to a dentist like Carpenter Dental right away.
A fever in your toddler that lasts for a few days without any other symptoms of illness can be a sign of new tooth growth. Toddlers often get back molars between the ages of two and three, and they can be painful. To indicate the pain your nonverbal toddler may point to their ear, cheek, or the back of their throat. Talk to your child's dentist about different ways you can alleviate your toddler's pain with cold packs, teething gel, or approved medications.
Nonverbal toddlers are well-known for being easily agitated as they strive extra-hard to be understood, but if your little one is throwing fits over everything, even things that are going well, they may be in pain and have no clue how to express themselves. Try this tip: pull your toddler into a quiet area where there are no distractions and wait for them to calm. Ask your toddler directly if they are hurt or have an 'owie'. If they nod, ask them where it is and allow them the chance to show you. If they cannot get out the correct words or familiar hand gestures to do so, then begin pointing at various parts of their body asking for clarification along the way.
If you suspect that an earache or toothache may be the problem, point to their mouth or tap your own teeth and ask if it hurts in that area. Your toddler, seeing a visual cue, may be able to nod or open their mouth in response in an attempt to help in the diagnosis.