A toothache may feel like a sharp or shooting pain, a throbbing pain, an intermittent pain that comes and goes, a dull ache, or a pain in the jaw or in the sinus cavity. Moreover, a toothache may hurt round-the-clock or may only feel noticeable during activities like eating, biting or chewing.

There are several reasons that your tooth will hurt, most frequently brought on by tooth decay, gum disease or an infection like abscess tooth. Inflammation in the dental pulp, the innermost layer of your teeth results in notable pain, because the interior of the tooth is made up of soft tissue which includes sensitive nerves and blood vessels.

Unfortunately, tooth pain can be very disruptive to other daily routines such as mealtimes, as eating or drinking can worsen the pain, especially with hot or cold sensations, and can intensify at night disrupting sleep. If you feel pain in a tooth, don’t wait to seek dental care—make a same-day or weekend dental appointment to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible.

What are the causes of a toothache?

Consistent or off and on tooth pain can be caused by tooth decay, abscessed tooth, tooth fractures or cracksdamaged fillings or crowns, heavy grinding of the teeth or infected or receding gums.

Other conditions that do not affect the dental pulp but still result in some level of pain include ulcers which form along your gums, sore gums when a new tooth breaking through (such as wisdom or adult teeth), oral cancer, sinus inflammation and jaw injuries.

Can I treat a toothache at home?

A decayed tooth will not repair itself, likewise an abscess tooth will not resolve on its own without proper treatment. Temporary pain relief at-home remedies include over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil, numbing gels, salt water rinses, or cold compresses.

Keep in mind that temporary relief will not treat a condition, and only a dental professional can diagnose and treat the root cause of an aching tooth. Toothaches accompanied by swelling of the face or throat, lumps or lesions, or a fever, that can be a sign of a larger infection or health condition that needs immediate care.

At-home temporary toothache pain relief remedies include:

  • Over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil
  • Numbing gels
  • Salt water rinses
  • Cold compresses
  • Tooth pain medications
  • Clove oil
  • Peppermint tea bags placed over the affected tooth

When to see a dentist for a toothache

Any pain lasting more than a day or two requires a visit to your dentist. The sooner the better since, left untreated, a mild toothache can worsen to the point of severe infection. When this happens, the pulp inside your tooth can decay to the point of dental abscess. Book a same-day emergency dental appointment!

How will the dentist treat a toothache?

After a full examination of your mouth and immediate surrounding areas, your dentist will ask you a series of questions, take X-rays to identify the scope of the problem, and then form a treatment plan.

In many cases, a cavity is simply cleaned, filled and sealed. Once the decayed material is removed from the tooth and the infection cleared, pain should subsist. In the event of a loose or broken filling, the dentist will remove the filling, clean the affected area and replace the filling.

A more serious case, when the bacteria has worked its way into the innermost portions of the tooth and infection has spread to the pulp or nerve, may require a root canal treatment and antibiotics to stop the infection. With proper hygiene and regular, bi-annual visits to the dentist, tooth decay is preventable.


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