How Do Children Express Pain?
Pain is one of the most primordial of emotions. It is experienced by babies and children, long before they are taught about it. Research has even said that babies experience pain even in the womb. Pain can be expressed by children in many different ways. Physical, emotional and mental pain cannot be differentiated that early, nor can be expressed. It is therefore not surprising that your child may be experiencing pain, even in the gums and teeth but expressing it in ways that are totally not familiar.

Let us try to understand general pain and its presentation

Recognizing pain symptoms in children is a challenge. When a child cries, is something really hurting or are they remembering an unpleasant experience? Does constant rubbing of the body part, leg or jaw mean irritation? Does the child really have something wrong when as a parent I can’t see a thing!


Unlike older children, crying babies don’t necessarily indicate pain. Crying is the only sign babies use to display everything – from irritation to hunger, stomach discomfort to teething. Babies express pain in different crying patterns.A change in crying pattern could signify shift in the cause of pain, unusually fussy babies or even babies nursing can mean pain in the mouth and therefore a sign of teething. Prolonged intense crying shows colicky pain while pain in stomach or abdomen indicate other medical issues.


When children talk, they express. They clutch the part that hurts and scream. Pulling of ears is common in toddlers and even rubbing cheeks when gums or teeth hurt. Infections that they experience are always picked up by their reactions; crying, rubbing and screaming.

Responding to a child’s pain

When children experience pain and display pain symptoms, it is best to feel the spot, enquire or take the child to the doctor. Sometimes when children are stressed, they do express it as pain, including when the stress is impending a doctor’s visit. Speak to the child gently, enquire for any accidents or falls that may have happened. When a child experience’s pain in the mouth or jaw and there are visible signs of tooth discolouration or gum reddening, it is best to bring them to a children’s dentist. In the confines of our clinic with the distractions we have, we’ll be better able to find out and address the real problem.

A children’s dentist is the best person to manage children’s tooth pain starting from as young as 1 year. It is best not to delay in order to avoid any kind of dental problem becoming severe or detrimental to their health.

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