A toothache occurs when the inside layer of your tooth – called the dental pulp – becomes inflamed. Inflammation triggers sensitive nerves and blood vessels to tell your brain that your tooth hurts. This inflammation can be caused by tooth decay or cavities, although there are other reasons for developing a toothache.
Keep reading to learn how to relieve a toothache while you wait for a dental appointment – and what you can do to prevent them in the first place.
Tip 1: Prevent Toothaches with Good Oral Hygiene
The best way to prevent dental pulp inflammation and the resulting toothache it causes is to practice good dental hygiene every day. Brushing twice per day and flossing once per day can reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Getting an appointment at a preventative and cosmetic dentistry practice in your area every six months for an exam and teeth polishing also should be part of your routine. You can visit more frequently if your dental insurance allows it!
Tip 2: Rinse With Warm Salt Water or Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
If you are experiencing a toothache, try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. The warmth of the water reduces inflammation, which in turn, reduces your pain. The water can also help rinse away any irritating debris along your gum line. Consider rinsing once or twice per day to help relieve toothache pain by mixing ½ teaspoon of salt into a small glass of warm water.
Alternatively, a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution is also an excellent oral rinse for toothache sufferers. Dilute your 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water. Just be careful not to swallow it.
Tip 3: Try a Cold Compress
To relieve swelling, apply a cold compress to the painful area for 20 minutes every few hours. To make a cold compress, all you’ll need is an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Don’t apply the ice pack directly to your face, as the cold can cause additional irritation.
Tip 4: Take OTC Pain Medications
Ask your doctor if you can take over-the-counter pain medications, such as NSAIDs, naproxen, or acetaminophen. A standard dose of these medications can help reduce swelling and pain. Be sure to use these medications only as directed.
Tip 5: Try a Peppermint Tea Natural Remedy
Peppermint has been shown to reduce symptoms of pain and swelling. As a result, people turn to peppermint tea bags to help alleviate toothaches. Simply brew tea and cool down the boiled tea bag. Hold the warm bag against the painful tooth and gum. Opt for an all-natural peppermint tea for this remedy.
Tip 6: Consider Toothpaste Especially for Sensitive Teeth
If you have a toothache due to nerve pain without any other cause, then it may be time for you to try toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. If your teeth are prone to hurting when you drink hot or cold liquids, then you may have sensitive teeth. Sensitivity toothpaste is an affordable way to help alleviate tooth and gum pain.
Signs You Need to Visit a Dentist
Depending on the severity of your toothache, you may need to see a dentist. Call your dentist if one of these apply to you:
- Your toothache has lasted longer than two days.
- You have a fever or earache when you open your mouth.
- Your face or mouth has swollen.
- Your toothache pain is severe.
Be prepared to tell your dentist and their team about the location of your pain, when it started, how severe it is, and what you’ve tried – successfully or not – to get pain relief.
What Will Happen Next?
To help diagnose why you have a toothache, your dentist will perform an oral exam. You may also need to have X-rays taken. The rest depends on what caused your toothache.
For example, if you have a cavity, your dentist can fill the cavity or extract your tooth. You may have a toothache because you need a root canal – a procedure that removes and replaces infected tooth pulp. Or, you may need an antibiotic if you have a bacterial infection in your jaw. If your toothache was caused by debris stuck under your gum line, a thorough cleaning may be required.
If you don’t already have a dentist you’ve established a relationship with, don’t wait until you have a tooth emergency to find one! Practice good preventative care and schedule regular teeth-cleaning appointments to help prevent toothaches and other oral health problems.
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