I Have a Toothache: What Should I Do?

Nov 01, 2023
 I Have a Toothache: What Should I Do?
A toothache can occur at any time, often leaving people wondering what to do and if they need to see the dentist. Keep reading to find the answers you need and tips for easing the pain.

Toothache pain may come in the form of an occasional mild twinge, sudden excruciating pain, or generalized discomfort.

While there’s no doubt that severe pain is a red flag, any tooth pain is a message alerting you to a dental problem.

Here’s the truth: a toothache won’t improve without treatment. 

The most common causes of a toothache — decay, gum inflammation, infection, or injury — can’t heal without intervention. In fact, it will worsen over time.

The only way to relieve the pain and preserve your tooth is to seek help from our caring team at Hudgens Dental, located in Charleston, South Carolina. In this blog, we offer three essential steps if you experience a toothache.

Step 1: Determine if your toothache needs emergency care

Many people hesitate to schedule an emergency dental appointment, wondering if it’s really necessary. Use the following three questions to guide your decision:

Is your pain severe?

A severe toothache is a sure sign of extensive tooth decay (or damage) or pulp infection.

You’ll need emergency dental care to eliminate the pain and protect your tooth, gums, and the bone supporting your tooth. Inflammation doesn’t take long to erode the bone, leading to a loose tooth.

How long have you had a toothache?

Nearly everyone with a mild or moderate toothache waits to see if their pain improves before visiting their dentist.

However, schedule an immediate appointment if your pain lasts longer than two days. You also need emergency attention if you have any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Swollen gums
  • Red gums
  • Lump on your gum
  • Earache
  • Swollen face, neck, or jaw
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold

These are signs of an underlying infection or serious tooth damage.

Did you lose a filling or other dental restorations?

Dental restorations don’t last forever. At some point, a filling may fall out, or a veneer, bridge, or crown may loosen or come off.

These problems are distressing and need prompt attention, but they’re not an emergency unless you’re in pain or the tooth has uncomfortable edges.

Step 2: Take care of the tooth

Begin by gently brushing and flossing to remove any food particles stuck near the tooth. Using a soft bristle brush and minimal force ensures you don’t irritate inflamed tissues or increase your pain.

You can ease pain and inflammation by rinsing with warm saltwater. Mix a cup of warm water with one-half teaspoon of salt, swish, and spit.

Holding a cold compress or ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables) to your outer cheek and jaw also eases pain and inflammation.

You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen if needed.

Don’t put topical pain relievers on your tooth or gums until you talk with us.

Step 3: Schedule a dental appointment

Always schedule a dental appointment for a toothache. Identifying the problem and repairing or restoring the tooth is the only way to eliminate your symptoms and prevent potential complications like tooth loss.

Even if you have a mild toothache, prompt care spares you from oral health complications. 

If you have any questions about dental pain, don’t hesitate to call Hudgens Dental. We will quickly assess your pain, offer self-care tips, and determine if you need an emergency appointment.