How to stop a toothache

What's causing that toothache? It could be a variety of factors. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

What's causing that toothache? It could be a variety of factors. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

If you suddenly find yourself with a toothache, there are several temporary fixes that make it possible to survive the pain before you get to your dentist. But make sure you get to the dentist. None of these remedies will fix your tooth completely.

Causes of toothaches

The main causes of toothaches are tooth decay and cavities, but broken fillings, infected gums, grinding teeth or abscessed teeth can also cause pain. These conditions don't occur overnight. At their most advanced stages, they cause pain. The best way to prevent problems with teeth and gums is to visit a dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings.

Finding a dentist

When you have a toothache that lasts more than two days or is very painful, you need to see a dentist. If you don't already have a dentist, ask family and friends for recommendations. Once you have a few names, you can go to Angie's List to read reviews of dentists and to find a dentist in your area.

Things to do while you wait

Even if you get an appointment with a dentist, you still might have to wait a few days. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen a toothache until your appointment.

  • Take a pain reliever. This is the most obvious choice for most people in pain. Make sure not to exceed the recommended dosage - even if your pain is excruciating.
  • Use an ice pack. Ice packs are a great way to numb an area to reduce the pain and swelling. If you don't have an ice pack, you can place ice cubes in a paper towel or washcloth and hold it on your cheek. Even using frozen food such as peas or carrots in their bag can alleviate the pain.
  • Have an ice massage. This remedy falls under the category of strange, but true. Take an ice cube and wrap it in a paper towel or gauze. Massage the hand on the same side as the toothache. Massage the area between the forefinger and thumb that forms a V. Do this until the ice melts away, about five minutes. Repeat as needed, but don't let your hand get too numb.
  • Rinse with salt water. Many dentists suggest rinsing your mouth out with a solution of warm water and table salt. Salt water rinses may provide a temporary relief of pain.
  • Use essential oils. Clove oil and peppermint oil are two essential oils that help with tooth pain. After purchasing one of the oils from a health food store, pour a small amount on a cotton swab. Then carefully apply the oil to the affected tooth.

For more information, visit the Angie's List Guide to Dentists.


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Tips for treating that toothache

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If you are experiencing a toothache, your best bet is to call a dentist who can properly treat the cause. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)
If you are experiencing a toothache, your best bet is to call a dentist who can properly treat the cause. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

When a toothache occurs, the pain can be unbearable. As you seek professional dental care, follow these common at-home treatments, traditional remedies and preventive practices to alleviate the pain.

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