Learn First-Aid 101: Toothache
Note: This is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. If you need medical advice, contact a medical professional.
Even a minor, temporary toothache can stop you in your tracks. Having a customized first-aid kit at home filled with the proper ingredients to address your toothache is key to minimizing pain and cutting down on injury time. Learning about the causes of toothaches helps you know how to prevent them in the future.
Triggers and Causes of Toothache
A toothache is characterized by pain in the tooth, in the root or in the surrounding gums. Depending on a person’s oral history and dental hygiene, a toothache can be caused by many things. Biting down may cause pain while other tooth pain may come seemingly from nowhere for no reason. With so many variables involved, it can be hard to pin down a single source for the pain.
Common causes of toothaches include the following:
- Plaque buildup
- Sinus infection
- Infected gums
- Abscessed tooth caused by cavities
- Fractured or cracked tooth
- Tooth decay
- Grinding teeth
While pain is the predominant symptom experienced with a toothache, there are several other symptoms that likely come along with it. Besides pain in the tooth, root or gums, other symptoms of a toothache can include:
- Pain when pressure is applied.
- Constant pain.
- Throbbing or buzzing in the tooth and gums.
- Swollen gums.
- Redness in the gums.
The best way to avoid getting a toothache or recurring toothaches is to take preventative measures. This would entail brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing at least once per day and visiting the dentist two to three times per year for cleanings and consultations. Other measures you can take include wearing a mouthguard when playing sports to prevent fractures, washing out your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash and reducing the intake of sugary and acidic foods.
If you experience an injury to your teeth or feel pain as a result of playing sports or some other activity, contact a dentist as soon as possible to address the issue and decrease the chances of bigger problems occurring.
First-Aid Kit Must-Haves for Toothache
Before a toothache befalls you, it is wise to have a custom first-aid kit prepared at your home. Because teeth are not a common consideration for first-aid, many general kits do not contain some of the following items. There are some toothache first-aid kits available that can be purchased online, at a pharmacy or your local general store and supermarket.
Stock up on the following items in preparation for a toothache:
Oral anesthetic gel – Oral anesthetic gel contains agents that numb pain in the gums and teeth locally. This provides temporary relief while you travel to the dentist for support.
Floss – Floss helps remove some of the plaque and buildup around teeth, which may be the main contributing factor to a toothache.
Cotton balls – Cotton balls soak up blood or discharge coming from a sore tooth. They keep other teeth or parts of the mouth from placing pressure on the affected tooth.
Cold compress – A cold compress pressed onto the cheek or jaw on the side of the toothache may relieve a bit of the associated pain, especially if the pain comes from the tooth being physically damaged or fractured.
Pain relief medication – Over-the-counter pain relief medications like ibuprofen can help to temporarily relieve overall pain and fever from a toothache.
Tooth container – A small plastic container that can be snapped or sealed closed can be invaluable if your tooth (or a fragment of it) falls out. You can transport the tooth to the dentist for testing and possible reattachment.
Natural Supplements That Can Help Toothache
There are several home remedies you can use to treat toothaches. The following natural methods can be effective, but they are not intended to replace the need for professional help. All of these listed items can be found at your local grocery store.
To reduce toothache pain, try using the following:
Saltwater rinse – As a natural remedy, using saltwater as a mouthwash can disinfect a toothache and assist in removing food sediments from within the mouth. The salt can help to heal open wounds.
Ice – One psychosomatic home remedy to toothaches is ice. Research suggests ice stops pain signals to the brain. Hold an ice cube in between your thumb and forefinger on the same side of the affected tooth until your fingers become numb.
Peppermint teabag – Peppermint has antibacterial properties that make it the perfect natural toothache remedy. After allowing it to cool a little, place a peppermint teabag that has been steeped in hot water on the gums of the tooth or wherever you are experiencing pain. It can also help to naturally reduce pain.
Clove oil – The oil in cloves can reduce inflammation and act as an antiseptic by numbing pain. Apply a drop of clove oil onto a cotton ball and rub it around the ailing tooth and gums. Additionally, you can add clove oil to water to wash out your mouth.
Garlic – Mash garlic into a paste and apply it around the sore tooth and gums. This natural toothache remedy has the ability to kill infectious bacteria and act as a mild pain reliever.
How to Take Care of Toothache
When taking care of toothache on your own, there are only so many things you can do in the interim. While you can treat symptoms of toothaches on your own, professional examination is best to determine the underlying causes of a toothache, especially if the toothache is recurring, consistent or extremely painful.
Take these following steps when dealing with a toothache from home:
- Rinse your mouth out with warm water. If you have salt, make a warm saltwater solution to begin the healing process.
- Remove excess pieces of food from the gums and in between teeth using floss.
- Apply oral anesthetic gel to the affected area as indicated by the package directions.
- Apply a cold compress to the cheek on the side of the affected tooth to reduce swelling.
- Take an over-the-counter pain relief medication if the pain persists.
- Make an appointment with a dentist.
When to Go to the Dentist for a Toothache
You may be able to take care of a toothache’s symptoms using your home first-aid kit or natural remedies. However, whenever you experience a toothache, you are going to want to visit a dentist so he or she can apply the appropriate plan of action to treat the source of the problem. In some cases, a toothache may indicate need for dental work or surgery, depending on how severe it is.
Contact your dentist for a toothache as soon as possible if:
- The toothache does not go away after a maximum of two days.
- You experience a fever as a result of the toothache.
- You notice signs of infection, such as swelling around the gums, redness, pain when chewing or discharge.
If you deal with the toothache on your own, the pain may go away within a few hours or even a day. Follow up with a dentist on your next regular checkup or if the pain returns. If the toothache pain is too intense, have your significant other, a family member, friend or coworker transport you to the dentist. The dentist will know the best course of action and may even suggest emergency dental surgery if your specific toothache case warrants it.
Related Article: Additional Resources