If you're experiencing the throbbing pain of a toothache, consider it your cue to call up your dentist. Unfortunately, getting a same-day or even next-day appointment isn't always possible. So, how do you relieve a toothache fast?
We reached out to Dr. Charles Sutera, DMD, FAGD, a board-certified dental anesthesiologist and aesthetic smile specialist, for tips on how to soothe the pain while you wait to get into the office.
Dr. Sutera confirmed that if you're having dental pain for a few days and it's getting worse, you should reach out to your dentist for professional advice, as small issues can lead to larger dental problems.
"For example, a cavity begins as a small hole in a tooth caused by bacteria," Dr. Sutera explained. "Over time, the bacteria [will] cause the cavity to tunnel deeper within the tooth. A tooth with a small cavity may be treated with a simple filling, but if allowed to progress over time, it may require much more extensive treatment like a root canal and crown."
However, he mentioned minor dental sensitivities and sensations do happen occasionally and they can relieve themselves in a day or two — so be sure to pay attention to your body's signals.
If you need help soothing the pain of a toothache, try some of Dr. Sutera's suggestions, including temporarily chewing on the side of your mouth that's not afflicted, placing a warm compress on the affected area, sleeping slightly elevated with multiple pillows in order to reduce blood pressure to the head, using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and managing pain and inflammation with OTC meditations like NSAIDs.
Keep in mind, though, these tips might not work for everyone, and you should contact your doctor before taking any new medications.
"Because dental toothaches can arise from a variety of underlying conditions, it's difficult to find a consistent home remedy that helps toothaches in all situations," Dr. Sutera said.
There are situations, Dr. Sutera explained, where you should contact your dentist immediately, though — like if there is swelling within the mouth or the outside of the mouth, if you've had a severe accident that caused impact to the mouth or jaw, or if you have underlying health conditions or are immunocompromised and are also experiencing dental pain.