A toothache can have many different causes. It is important to talk with your dentist about any pain or symptoms you may be having.
This article will discuss toothaches and their causes. It will also discuss home remedies, when to contact a dentist, and treatments for toothaches.
A toothache can be a symptom of several different conditions. Some toothaches may require care from a dental professional. In some cases, home remedies may help to relieve discomfort caused by a toothache.
Sudden tooth or jaw pain along with shortness of breath or chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack.
Tooth pain that requires emergency treatment is rare. Conditions that can cause a toothache include:
- dental cavities
- exposed teeth roots
- broken teeth
- tooth infections, or abscesses
- sinus infections
- grinding of the teeth
- loose or missing cavity fillings
- receding gums
- tooth sensitivity
If you are experiencing pain between your teeth, something may be trapped between them. Try rinsing your mouth and flossing to remove any food or other items stuck between your teeth. This can be a fast and easy way to relieve tooth pain.
Essential oil from cloves has been shown to help relieve tooth pain. One study found that clove oil paste was more effective than 0.2% chlorhexidine gel, a prescription antiseptic.Be careful not to swallow clove oil. It may cause unpleasant side effects and can be toxic to your liver in higher doses.
Benzocaine is an over-the-counter pain reliever that can be applied to the gums and teeth. It is available in different strengths and may require some experimenting to find a strength that works best for you.
Benzocaine is not safe for infants or children under the age of 2. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), use in young children may cause a potentially life-threatening blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia.
Applying a cold compress to the affected area can reduce pain and swelling caused by a toothache. To make a cold compress, freeze a wet washcloth or cover an ice pack with a damp cloth.
Sometimes, a sinus infection may feel like a toothache. Sinuses near your teeth can become congested or inflamed, causing pain or discomfort. Using a heating pad can help to reduce sinus pain.
If you do not have a heating pad, you can make your own. Try filling a cotton sock with dry, uncooked rice and tying the end. Then, gently microwave it to bring it to a warm temperature.
Heat therapy can have the added benefit of drawing white blood cells to an affected area. This can help your body fight infection.
If you have a sinus infection, it is important to contact your doctor. You may need antibiotics to help clear the infection.
Read more about sinus infections.
6. Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth
If your tooth pain occurs when you eat hot, cold, or sweet food and drinks, your teeth might be sensitive. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth contains ingredients like potassium nitrate to help reduce sensitivity. These toothpastes can take a few days until you notice their effects. Be sure to continue using them to give them time to work.
Peppermint tea contains menthol, a cooling agent that can help reduce pain. After brewing peppermint tea, try letting the tea bag cool and applying it directly to your affected tooth.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) include drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. According to the American Dental Association, they are more effective in treating dental pain than highly addictive opioids. Contact your doctor or dentist if you have questions about dosage with NSAIDs.
9. Try a temporary filling
If your tooth pain is caused by a lost filling, a temporary filling may help. Some pharmacies sell these to replace a lost filling until you are able to see a dentist. These can also be a good home remedy for tooth pain caused by a damaged crown.
Unmanaged stress may cause teeth grinding, or bruxism. Bruxism can occur day or night and lead to tooth pain and sensitivity. Finding ways to better manage your stress can help prevent bruxism.
Some methods that can help to reduce teeth grinding include guided muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and over-the-counter mouthguards.
When to see a dentist for a toothache
While some home remedies can help to relieve a toothache, you may need professional dental care. Do not wait to see a dentist if your tooth pain is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms. Waiting to seek medical attention may lead to more pain or complications.
Here are a few situations when you should seek immediate dental care for a toothache:
- Cracked tooth: A dentist can easily fix a small crack in a tooth. Leaving a cracked tooth untreated may lead to complications. Food that gets stuck in the crack can allow bacteria to grow, causing an infection.
- Knocked out tooth: If your tooth is knocked out, contact a dentist immediately. They may be able to successfully replant it. In the meantime, you can try to preserve the tooth by putting it back into its socket. If you are unable to reposition it, place it in a glass of milk or in your mouth next to your cheek.
- Bleeding gums: Some slight gum bleeding can occur when flossing. However, excessive gum bleeding with a toothache may be a sign of infection. Seek immediate treatment from a dentist to prevent a possible infection from spreading.
- High fever: Seek immediate medical attention if a high fever develops with your toothache. This can be a sign of infection.
- Toothache lasting longer than two days: See a dentist if your tooth pain increases after trying home remedies or lasts for more than two days.
Possible dental treatments for toothaches
Depending on what is causing your toothache, a dentist may suggest one of several treatments, including:
- Antibiotics: These can help treat an infected tooth, also called an abscessed tooth. An abscessed tooth occurs when bacteria enters a cracked or decayed tooth. It can lead to infection in the jaw bone and surrounding areas.
- Root canal: A root canal is a procedure that can save a decayed, infected, or damaged tooth. It usually involves 1–2 dentist visits.
- Mouth guard: A mouth guard can help prevent sensitivity caused by daytime or nighttime teeth grinding. Your dentist can make a custom fitting mouth guard for you to wear.
- Filling: A simple dental filling can fix a toothache caused by a cavity.
- Extraction: Infection or decay may be too severe to save a tooth. In this case, your dentist may decide to extract it, or pull it out.
Potential complications of a toothache
Relying on home remedies may seem easier than visiting a dentist. However, waiting to seek treatment can put you at risk of complications.
Research shows that undetected dental infections can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease almost threefold.
Caring for your gums and teeth is important for your overall health. Your gums provide direct entry into your bloodstream, so it is important to keep them healthy.
Learn more about dental symptoms you should not ignore.
Frequently asked questions
The following frequently asked questions have been reviewed by Jennifer Archibald, D.D.S.
How do you stop tooth pain quickly?
You can relieve tooth pain quickly by taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. You can also use an over-the-counter gel containing benzocaine as long as you are not experiencing bleeding.
How do you stop nerve pain in your tooth?
NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can relieve nerve pain in a tooth. You can also apply a cold compress to the affected area. Contact a dentist if you are experiencing nerve pain in a tooth. You may need a filling or root canal to prevent it from getting worse.
There are many home remedies you can use to treat a toothache. These include topical treatments, medications, and hot and cold compresses.
A toothache may be due to a direct cause such as a cavity or food trapped between the teeth. It may also be due to an indirect cause such as a sinus infection.
Home remedies can provide fast relief from a toothache. Contact a dentist if your pain increases, lasts longer than 2 days, or you experience other symptoms alongside a toothache.