Toothaches are nothing new. We’ve all experienced it in one form or another over the course of our lives. Thankfully, we are experiencing it less and less
than our ancestors with advancements in dental care, and regular checkups. But, should you be so unfortunate to get a toothache, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize or possibly eliminate your tooth pain.
A toothache, says Philip D. Corn, D.D.S., a private practitioner in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and director of the Pennsylvania Academy of General Dentistry, may be a symptom of several things. The pulp of your tooth or the gums around your throbbing cuspid could be infected. There could be decay in a molar. You may have a cracked bicuspid. Or you might have been smacked in the mouth. But the ache could simply be an irritation from a piece of food caught between two teeth, adds Jerry F. Taintor, D.D.S., chairman of endodontics at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. Or it could be a backlash from a sinus problem.
If your unfortunate malady occurs over the weekend or at a time when you can’t immediately see a dentist, there are a few simple steps you can take to temporarily alleviate dental pain until you can see a dentist for treatment. Though it sounds painful, gently flossing around the affected tooth will remove small food particles that could be contributing to the problem. Gently rinsing your mouth out with warm salt water or mouthwash helps to disinfect the area and relieve a bit of the pain and inflammation.
If you are unable to seek immediate dental care due to traveling or other reasons, the American Academy of General Dentistry offers these tips to help reduce toothache pain temporarily until a dentist can be seen.
If left untreated, a toothache can lead to a tooth abscess (infection) that may spread to other parts of the head or jaw, and can cause even more serious consequences. An abscessed tooth - usually recognized by continuous deep pain and throbbing - requires immediate treatment.Any over-the-counter pain medication that you have, whether ibuprofen (Motrin, for example), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or naproxen (AleveTM) can help tooth pain as well as any other kind of pain. For me, acetaminophen doesn't do much; ibuprofen works best. Good old aspirin should be avoided in children, as it can cause Reye's syndrome, and it shouldn't be used if the pain is in your gums, nor should it touch your gums. Salicylic acid is what aspirin is, and that acid can inflame the gums. I don't use it because I have acid reflux, and aspirin makes the reflux worse.