If you are reading this, I assume you, or somebody you care about, is in quite a lot of pain, there is no dentist available, and you need to do something that is going to work as quickly as possible. In this article I am going to guide you on the most appropriate and effective first aid for toothache.
Of course, somebody with severe toothache needs to see a dentist as soon as possible. Please make sure that you see a dentist even if you manage to get the pain under control after following these tips!
First, take some pain relief
The first thing to do is to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (Advil) if you have these medications on hand. Acetaminophen is known as paracetamol outside of the United States.
Tylenol and Advil are most effective for dental pain when taken together and for healthy people this is perfectly safe to do. If you are pregnant, particularly in your 3rd trimester, avoid taking Advil and just take the Tylenol.
If the pain hasn’t subsided to an acceptable level after an hour of taking the Tylenol and/or Advil and you have been prescribed codeine or oxycodone already you can also take these on top of the Tylenol and Advil.
Just make sure you don’t take any of these medications in a higher dose than you have already been prescribed. These medications can cause serious medical problems if taken in excess.
What you need to do next will depend on the symptoms and the appearance of the tooth that is hurting.
Would the pain be better described as dull, throbbing and not going away or would it be better described as short and sharp?
If the Pain is Dull and Throbbing
Does the tooth hurt to bite on or when it is pushed with your finger? If it does and you have already been prescribed an antibiotic such as amoxycillin, you can take this antibiotic as was prescribed to you. This will help because the tooth is very likely infected. However, the antibiotic can take a day or two to become effective, so make sure you keep taking your pain relief as described earlier.
If there is an area of gum around a tooth that is very red and/or swollen, you may have some food jammed into the gum. See if you can find the food with something like a wooden toothpick and try to gently remove as much of it as possible. Don’t worry if this causes some bleeding. Bleeding is normal in this situation as the gum is so inflamed and will bleed with even very slight pressure. Stop if it hurts a lot though. Now you have got all the food out (or even if you haven’t been able to) you should rinse the mouth with warm, salty water for a minute once every hour.
If the Pain is Short and Sharp
Is the pain made worse by cold? Try applying a desensitising toothpaste such as Sensodyne or Colgate Rapid Relief.
Is the pain made worse by hot? Unfortunately there is nothing more you can do for now other than taking the pain relief as discussed earlier.
Is the pain made worse when eating? You may have a cracked cusp, a loose filling, or a broken tooth. You are unlikely going to be able to do anything about these problems by yourself, so just avoid eating on that side of your mouth until you can see a dentist.
If the tooth is broken or has a hole in it
If the tooth is broken and it hurts when cold or hot water or air goes over it, you can cover the tooth with some chewed sugar free gum. This can insulate the tooth from the hot and cold stimulus. You can also use “Blu-Tack”, “Tack-it”, “Poster putty”, “Fun-tak” or the like to cover the exposed break or hole in the tooth.
Clove oil, Bonjela and Teething Gels
If you have any of these products, they all have a mild numbing effect on the tooth and gums and can help with the pain.
Dental pain can be one of the most unpleasant experiences somebody can go through. I sincerely hope that these tips have helped you through this experience. If you have found any of these tips to be helpful or would like to add some of your own suggestions on how to manage toothache, please do so in the comments section.