The pain of a toothache can be overwhelming.  Fortunately, modern dental care has made toothaches far less common, and when a toothache does come up we have a number of effective ways to treat the problem and relieve the ache.  Regardless of the cause of your toothache, it’s something you should talk to your dentist about: even if these remedies help alleviate the pain a toothache may be the sign of a problem.

There are a number of different types of tooth pain.  Some people experience pain as a result of teeth that are sensitive to heat or cold.  Other toothaches may be the result of sinus problems.  These toothaches are characterized by pain limited to the upper teeth and in most cases more than one tooth is affected at a time.  Tooth grinding (or bruxism) may be another cause of toothaches, as can problems with the temporamandibular joint (TMJ) or recent dental work.

There are a number of types of tooth pain that should trigger a call to the dentist.  For instance, sharp pain when biting down may be the sign of a cavity, cracked tooth, damaged tooth pulp, or a loose filling.  When tooth sensitivity lasts for more than 30 minutes after eating cold or hot foods, it may also be the sign of a greater problem.  If tooth pain is severe enough to wake you at night, or is accompanied by swelling or sensitivity, you need to visit the dentist as soon as possible.

Sometimes (like in the middle of the night), it’s not possible to get to the dentist.  In those cases, here are some temporary measures you can take to sooth the pain of a toothache.
Over-the-counter pain medication like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can help take the edge off a toothache.  Most dentists recommend ibuprofen, as it can also relieve inflammation that may come with a tooth infection.

If you are looking for a more natural approach to cope with tooth pain, you can try applying oil of cloves to numb the pain.  Be sure to apply this oil sparingly and only to the tooth itself, as it can cause a burning sensation on the gums.
If swelling accompanies your toothache, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek, or holding an ice cube or cold water in your mouth.  If this aggravates your pain, of course, stop immediately.

Rinsing with warm water may dislodge any food debris that could aggravate tooth pain.  For an added benefit, try stirring one teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water, rinsing, and spitting.  Flossing is another good way to remove food debris.

Sometimes a sore tooth feels sensitive to air.  If this is the case, cover the tooth with a piece of gauze or a little dental wax.  Even a tiny bit of sugarless chewing gum may do the trick until you can get to a dentist.

Regardless of the method you try, it will only bring temporary relief.  If there is a problem with your tooth or gums, the best and only way to find permanent relief is to visit the dentist.

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Sometimes it’s impossible to get to the dentist.  In those cases, here are some temporary measures to sooth the pain of a toothache.