Toothache

  • Medical Author:
    Donna S. Bautista, DDS

    Dr. Donna S. Bautista, DDS, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor of arts in biochemistry and cell biology. During her time at UC San Diego, she was involved in basic research including studying processes related to DNA transcription in the field of molecular biology. Upon graduation, she went on to attend dental school at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to her formal dental training, she provided dental care for underserved communities in the Bay Area through clinics and health fairs. She also worked toward mentoring high school students interested in the field of dentistry.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Are home remedies effective for a toothache?

Generally, home remedies are only effective as a temporary measure to calm a severe toothache and are not intended to cure the problem. How does one try to stop a toothache fast without the aid of a dental professional? Oral pain medication will be a key step. Over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) are called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and are best taken on a schedule to provide pain relief. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an alternative painkiller. In some cases, alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen is effective.

Additionally, clove oil is a natural remedy that is used in some sedative dental filling materials and can be found at the pharmacy. It can be applied to an exposed area of the tooth by biting into a small cotton ball that is soaked with clove oil. This may help stop a toothache temporarily. Other products which contain benzocaine (including Orajel or Anbesol) can temporarily numb the affected tooth or gums and provide pain relief as well.

To help a toothache until treatment can be found, one should avoid chewing on the affected tooth/area and minimize extreme temperatures of hot and cold. Keeping the area clean and free of food debris may help as well. If swelling of the surrounding gums or tissues is present, immediate treatment with a dentist or physician is advised to avoid the spread of infection. Home remedies are meant to temporarily alleviate pain, but not to treat infection.

Above all, proper diagnosis and timely treatment by a dental professional is strongly advised to effectively treat a toothache.

How is a toothache treated during pregnancy?

Dental treatment can be safely performed during pregnancy as long as a few guidelines are followed.

Generally, if dental work is required to treat a toothache, the recommended time for treatment is during the second trimester of pregnancy. However, if there is a risk of infection or severe pain, dental treatment may need to be performed at any point during a pregnancy. The obstetrician is consulted on what would be the safest option to avoid any possible complications during dental treatment.

If a dental X-ray is needed, a lead apron is always used for every patient. For a pregnant patient, this is particularly important in protecting the unborn child.

Careful consideration should be made to ensure that any medications that are used are safe during pregnancy. This applies to local anesthetics administered during dental treatment and antibiotics (such as amoxicillin [Amoxil, Trimox, Moxatag, Larotid]) taken before or after treatment. Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen are avoided as these are not considered safe during pregnancy. Acetaminophen is considered safe for pain management.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/7/2016

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