What to Do When a Toothache Strikes

It’s easy to panic when a toothache develops; the pain is often acute, and quickly impedes our ability to eat, drink, and even focus. It’s important to take immediate action to address toothaches.

Toothache Trouble: Potential Causes & Symptoms

Toothaches can be the result of an issue that develops slowly, or from trauma to a tooth. In either case, you may experience a sharp or dull ache, swelling, and fever.

Common slow-developing causes include tooth decay, gradual wearing away of an old filling, or a fracture that grows over time due to grinding. A slow-growing toothache can also happen with the eruption of a new tooth, such as a wisdom tooth, that does not have enough space.

Some issues develop faster, like trauma caused by an accident or by biting on something hard. Other times, toothaches come on quickly due to an infection in the gums or root of a tooth.

Toothache Trouble: Steps to Address the Issue

The first, best step you can take to address a toothache is to phone your dentist. The office staff will help you assess the situation and will decide how soon you need to be seen. While you’re waiting on hold, take an over the counter pain reliever to help ease discomfort and inflammation. Rinsing your mouth out with warm water or salt water can also ease the pain while helping to clean the area.

If your situation is more serious, such as if your tooth is broken or falls out, you need to take more specific steps to ensure that you protect what is left of your tooth. In addition to rinsing your mouth out immediately with warm water and contacting your dentist, Colgate recommends taking these steps: “Apply pressure with a piece of gauze on any bleeding areas for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. If this doesn’t work, use a tea bag with pressure on the area to stop the bleeding. Apply a cold pack to the cheek or lips over the broken tooth. This will help reduce swelling and relieve pain. If you can’t get to your dentist right away, cover the part of the tooth that is in your mouth with temporary dental cement. You can find this at a drugstore.”

We all experience a toothache from time to time. Try to calmly address the issue and do what you can to keep yourself comfortable while you wait for an appointment with your dentist.