What To Do When Your Tooth Hurts


Now and then I see a patient who has nurtured a toothache for too long. “I have had this toothache for months, and the ibuprofen doesn’t seem to help.” The sad truth is that now there’s most likely a decay-ridden tooth. If the patient wants to save the tooth, the options are limited. In the most severe cases, a root canal and crown or extraction and replacement with an implant will be required.

If your tooth starts to hurt, here are the steps you should take to prevent pain, save money, and salvage your tooth:

1. Determine what kind of pain you are having.

Different types of pain describe different situations which require different types of treatment. For example, a tooth that is sensitive to hot/cold temperatures may simply need a prescription for a strongly fluoridated toothpaste. However, other types of pain may indicate a more involved treatment such an emergency root canal to preserve the tooth. For example:

  • Severe pain when biting down on food,
  • Lingering sensitivity even after cold/hot food is swallowed,
  • Dull ache near the top of your teeth, or
  • Acute and constant pain from an entire area of the mouth.

2. Call your dental practice.

Describe the type of pain you are experiencing. If your toothache is intense, there is a good chance that decay has reached the root. Some action needs to be taken immediately to prevent further pain and damage. Schedule your appointment for the first available time.

3. Reduce the Pain.

While you are waiting for your appointment, you can get some relief from the intense moments of tooth pain with an OTC pain reliever or an ice pack.

4. Talk to your dentist.

There will be different for dealing with a decayed tooth. Ask questions about each of the treatment options available, so you have all the information you need to make the right decision. Every treatment plan will have pros and cons – make sure you understand them all.

Remember,  healthy teeth make a healthy smile!

Dr. Nishan Halim

Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center.  If you have questions about dental care, contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment. 

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