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Careington 500 Dental Plan

How To Manage A Toothache

It's likely that everyone on the planet as, at some point if not many, experienced a toothache. These can come with different symptoms and causes, but their presence is universal. A toothache can manifest itself as a low, dull throb, a sharp, stabbing pain, or anything in between. Typically, we can treat a minor toothache at home by managing its pain and double-checking our dental habits going forward. But a more severe toothache can leave you in severe pain and in need of immediate professional care. Here are some at-home steps to identifying and managing tooth pain - and when to see a dentist for it.

Examine the aching tooth : Look closely at the affected area. Are there food particles lodged between two teeth? Do you notice a crack or break in the tooth or teeth? Simply identifying the source of the ache can go a long way toward relief, especially if the culprit is something imminently fixable.

Clean the teeth: If you indeed have food lodged in your teeth, cleaning them thoroughly by brushing and flossing can certainly remove it. (Don't brush or floss vigorously or improperly, which can damage the gums or even drive the particles further into the gums. Floss in the recommended C-shaped curve along the gumline.)

Medication : If your tooth continues to hurt, over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen can help to manage the pain and discomfort. A numbing substance like benzocaine, often a key ingredient in toothache medications, can be applied to the affected area. This can numb or deaden the pain while you await your dental appointment.

Tooth sensitivity : Perhaps the culprit is overly sensitive teeth, a very common problem. Sensitive teeth are those whose roots or exposed, or whose enamel has worn down and led to a weakening of the tooth's surfaces. We notice this sensitivity when we eat very sweet, very hot, or very cold foods (or feel cold air on our teeth). If this is the issue, rest assured that it is quite manageable. Specialized toothpastes and mouth rinses are available, often over the counter, to help re-strengthen your sensitive teeth.


If you cannot identify and treat the toothache at home, and it lasts longer than a day or two, see your dentist. (You should also schedule an immediate appointment if you also feel pain your jaw or ear, or develop a fever. An infection in the tooth can easily spread to nearby areas.) Your dentist will likely x-ray your mouth, face, throat, ears, and neck in an effort to identify the problem. At that point, he or she will have a better idea of the problem (infection? fracture? sensitivity?) and can establish a treatment plan for your teeth.