image001You know what tootche feels like. You are eating or drinking something cold or you bite down on something hard and, all of a sudden, you feel an excruciating pain in your jaw or face. Or perhaps you wake up in the morning and your face is swollen and painful. Your tooth is throbbing and you feel horrible.

Watch a video for causes of toothache and some simple home remedies before reading on to learn more treatment options:

Home Remedies for Toothache

Fortunately, you can try many things at home if you have a toothache.

  • Avoid certain foods. First, if you experience pain associated with eating or drinking hot or cold food or drinks, avoid those foods.
  • Use proper toothpaste. If tooth sensitivity continues, try one of the specially formulated toothpastes for sensitive teeth.
  • Try a cold or warm compress on your face. Sometimes, this simple remedy can relieve the pain.
  • Clove oil or over-the-counter (OTC) liquid gels may help to numb the pain when applied directly to the sore tooth. Do not use these if you can see an open sore on your gum or anywhere in your mouth.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water. This action may rinse away food particles stuck in your teeth that may be causing the discomfort. The warmth may also be soothing to sore teeth and gums.
  • Rinse your mouth with cool water if warmth tends to make the pain worse.
  • Brush and floss your teeth if you think the toothache may be caused by food caught between your teeth. This is also a good practice as a way of preventing a toothache.
  • Use OTC medications. An OTC pain medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may help to relieve pain. Follow directions on the bottles and do not take any of these for more than two days at a time unless directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Elevate your head. You can do this particularly if you can feel a throbbing pain in your tooth. Keeping your head above the level of your heart may keep the throbbing pain at bay.
  • Cover the tooth. If you can see that your tooth is broken, cover the tooth with something to decrease its exposure. Gauze and chewing gum may get you through until you can see a dentist. The best way to cover a broken tooth is to use dental wax. Although it may be harder to find, dental wax is easy to mold to your tooth until you are able to get to your dentist!

Prevention of Toothache

The best treatment for a toothache is not to get one in the first place. Although some people are more prone to decay than others are, everyone can decrease their chances of getting a toothache through some simple preventative steps.

  • Good dental hygiene is critical! Brush your teeth at least two times every day. If you are out and do not have a toothbrush with you, rinse your mouth well after eating. Floss your teeth each time you brush.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Avoid too many sweets. Remember that sweet drinks can cause tooth decay, too.
  • Visit dentists regularly. Many gum and tooth problems that lead to toothaches can be prevented by regular dental exams and cleanings. These visits to your dentist will help remove plaque and catch gum disease and problems with your teeth early in the process.

When to See a Doctor

  • If you have symptoms of a toothache that lasts longer than two days, you should get in to see your dentist for evaluation and treatment.
  • A fever or facial swelling with a toothache should also prompt a visit to your dentist. All of these are warning signs that your home remedies are not working.

When you go to the dentist, s/he will do a dental exam. Your dentist will probably take dental x-rays to look at the "inside" of your teeth. Depending on what the exam and x-rays reveal, your dentist will prescribe one or more treatments that may include dental cleaning, fillings, extractions, dental appliances, or others. Talk to your provider about any recommended treatment to determine if there is more than one course of action.