What to Do When a Toothache Strikes

TOOTHACHES CAN HAPPEN for a number of reasons. It’s important to know what to do about them, because they don’t always happen when the dentist’s office is open. Do you have a plan for how to deal with an after-hours toothache?

Major Causes of Toothaches

Tooth decay is the main culprit behind a painful tooth, but there are others too, from gum disease to pulp inflammation to dental abscess to an actual injury to the tooth. Teeth that are impacted in the jaw can also be painful. In addition to all these, tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable, and sometimes the problem traces back to simple congestion or a sinus infection.

Managing Dental Pain Until the Appointment

If at all possible, come to us right away with your dental pain, but as we mentioned before, toothaches don’t always respect office hours. Here are a few things you can do to keep the pain level manageable until you can see us:

  • Apply a cold compress near the sore area
  • Use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pills or topical medication
  • Reduce inflammation by rinsing and spitting with warm saltwater (do not swallow)

Ways to Prevent Future Toothaches

No one who has already had a toothache wants to have another one. They can’t always be prevented, as in cases where sinus infections or an injury were the cause, but aches and pains that result from poor dental health are ones patients can often prevent with the right habits.

The most important of those habits are brushing and flossing. Brush for twice a day for two full minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Also cut down on sugary foods and drinks that feed harmful oral bacteria, and make sure to schedule a professional dental cleaning and dental exam twice a year.

Why are these regular appointments so important? It’s very difficult to completely avoid tartar buildup without professional cleanings, and tooth decay doesn’t always have symptoms at first. If a dentist doesn’t catch it early on, it is unlikely to go away on its own and much more likely to get worse and become a painful (and expensive) problem.

We’re Here for You and Your Teeth!

As much as we don’t enjoy feeling pain, it’s the body’s natural alarm system to signal when something is wrong, and we need to pay attention. If you have a toothache, no matter what you think the cause is, schedule an appointment so that we can get to the bottom of it and recommend next steps.

It’s never too soon to see us about a dental problem!

Top image by Flickr user Edward Webb used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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