One or the worst pains a person can suffer is toothache pain. There is something
about pain in the mouth that cannot be ignored. Toothache pain can be a minor dull ache one day, and escalate to an
excruciating throb the next.
What is causing this? Well, it can be several things, but the most common is the
break down of the dentin in the tooth into the nerve, caused by decay. A small pinpoint of decay on the outside of
the tooth can spread out in a triangle pattern inside the tooth and continue its damage until it gets to the inside
of the tooth and really hurts.
You may notice when you drink a cold drink that you get a sharp, lingering pain
in your tooth. This is a sign that the nerve is exposed to the outside elements that you put into your mouth. Some
people have sensitive teeth that respond to cold foods like ice cream, but the pain goes away. If the toothache
pain does not go away, your tooth is damaged and will most likely need a root canal.
Hot foods can cause toothache pain as well as sweet foods. All of these symptoms
are a sign that the tooth is in trouble and needs evaluation by a dentist or Endodontist.
If your tooth has a fracture, you can get sharp pains when you chew. Fractures
occur from grinding your teeth in your sleep or eating hard foods such as ice or nuts. A hairline fracture is hard
to detect on an x-ray and special dye tests can be performed to detect some of them.
If the fracture is not treated by a filling or a root canal and crown, the
fracture will get longer and wider over time and finally reach the nerve on the inside of the tooth. If this
happens and your drink cold or hot foods, the pain will be severe and a root canal or extraction will be necessary
So what do you do if you find yourself in severe
1. Call your dentist and arrange an appointment as soon as possible.
Tell them of your condition so there will be no mistake that you need help immediately, if possible. If your
dentist cannot see you right away, he/she may be willing to call-in some
pain relievers to your pharmacy.
If they do not have an appointment available, ask for a referral to an
Endodontist. Most Endodontists do not require a referral, but your insurance might, and your dentist may have
an Endodontist that he prefers for you to see. Endodontists are specially trained to diagnose toothache
At both offices, ask to be put on their emergency waiting list and make
arrangements to be ready to see them as soon as they call. In other words, have your phone with you wherever
you go so you can be reached should they have an appointment become available at the last minute.
2. In the mean time, you can try taking over the counter pain
relievers. Medications like Ibuprofen work best because of their anti-inflammatory characteristics. You can
also add acetaminophen in between the doses of Ibuprofen if the pain does not ease. Trying these two pain
relievers together can sometimes bring the toothache pain to a manageable level.
Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle - do not
overmedicate. If you are prescribed a pain reliever by your dentist, ask the pharmacist what over the
counter pain reliever you can take with the prescribed medication, as it sometimes takes both to
3. There are also products you can buy at the pharmacy that will
temporarily numb the area, like Ambesol, Oragel, and Oil of Cloves. These work better on the gums than the
4. Some patients have reported relief from toothache pain by holding
something cold on the cheek, like a bag of frozen peas or a cold pack made with a towel and ice
5. You can also try rubbing the outside cheek with an ice cube in a
circular motion to try and break the pain cycle of toothache pain.
6. Try rinsing your mouth with a lukewarm salt-water mixture of one
teaspoon of salt to one cup water.
When you have toothache pain, it is best to avoid any activity that will add
pressure to the head area, like exercising or even lying down flat. Try to maintain an upright position. It is also
not a good idea to fly at this time as the pressure in the airplane cabin can increase the toothache pain.
Some patients have reported that their toothache started with an airplane flight.
If none of these instructions bring you relief, or if it is night or weekend and
swelling occurs, some people go to the hospital emergency room for help. There is not a lot they can do there
except prescribe medications for you until you can see a dentist.
Swelling is an indication of an infected tooth or abscess. An antibiodic will be
needed to clear this up.
Some people think that an infected and swollen tooth cannot be treated. Let your
dentist or Endodontist evaluate your condition and make the judgment of how to treat your toothache pain. They need
to see the swelling to determine its cause and can sometimes offer ways to get you out of pain sooner. There is no
reason for you to suffer any longer than you have to.
If you have swelling and an antibiodic is prescribed, do not think that because
your toothache pain has gone away that you are healed. The antibiodic will calm the toothache pain but as soon as
the medication is out of your system, the toothache pain can return, sometimes much worse than before.
Even people that are afraid of dentists all agree, that during toothache pain,
your dentist suddenly becomes a person you can't wait to visit. When you get treated and feeling better, send him
some cookies or a card to show your