Everyone’s experienced a toothache before. It doesn’t always feel the same. Sometimes it’s a sharp jolt, other times it's dull and sore, and sometimes it’s this nagging, pulsating pain that for some reason refuses to stop. It’s alarming, we know. So if you’ve got a toothache, we have some home remedies to help, but it might also be time to see a dentist.
What caused my toothache in the first place?
Your toothache can be caused by a variety of issues. The most common cause is tooth decay (cavities). This happens when natural bacteria that lives in your mouth creates a sticky plaque. This plaque clings to the surface of your teeth and can damage the enamel.
You might also experience tooth pain from the following:
- Grinding your teeth at night
- A sudden injury to the mouth or jaw
- Losing a filling
- A sinus infection
- A tooth abscess
So how do I make the pain stop?
When it comes to toothache, getting connected to a dentist is your best bet for stopping the pain at its source. But until you can see one, here are five first-aid tips for a toothache:
- Consider taking an anti-inflammatory. You can take over the counter (OTC) pain medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) to help manage the pain and reduce inflammation, but be sure to always stay within the recommended dosage on the packaging and consult with your primary care physician first. In addition, don’t place aspirin or another painkiller directly against your gums as it may burn your gum tissue.
- Use a cold compress. If your pain is being caused by trauma, and you have an ice pack in your freezer, or a bag of ice, you can wrap it in a towel and apply it to the affected side of your face for 20 minutes at a time. This helps constrict the blood vessels in the area which can help reduce pain.
- Rinse with warm salt water . Another easy option you have is to rinse with warm salt water. Salt water is a natural antibacterial agent so it can help clean any infected areas.
- Use dental floss. Sometimes the pain might be caused by food particles wedged between your teeth. You can try using dental floss to remove the particles or plaque to help.
- Apply Sensodyne. If the sensitivity you’re experiencing is caused by the recession of your gums, an over-the-counter toothpaste called Sensodyne can help. Applying Sensodyne directly to the tooth and leaving it on for 20-30 minutes can help manage discomfort.
It’s important to note that the remedies above will only provide temporary relief if the root of your toothache isn’t solved.
So I should see a dentist?
Yes! If the pain persists beyond a day or two, or if you experience severe pain, a fever, swelling, or trouble breathing or swallowing, it is important to get connected to a dentist immediately.
Lucky for you, Wally has amazing dentists available for same-day virtual visits. They will triage your problem, and determine the best next step which may include a prescription, a virtual follow up, or an in-person appointment with a high-quality dentist near you (at a discount).
Got it, I’ll reach out to a dentist. But is there a way to help prevent this in the first place?
Of course! There are a couple of easy actions you can take to help prevent toothaches. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once. Avoid sugary or sticky foods and drinks (or try to rinse with water afterwards).
We also believe that preventative care is extremely important, and that is why we launched our at-home dental assessment kits. By getting the full picture of your mouth health, using science, you can stop and even reverse issues like tooth decay and gum disease that, down the road, will be painful and expensive to treat.