- Pain or
discomfort in a tooth
- Main cause
of toothache is tooth decay (cavities).
- Complications of tooth decay can also cause a toothache, for
example: abscess (pus pocket) around base of tooth and skin infection of cheek
area overlying a tooth.
Caution: Rarely individuals may have a toothache or jaw pain
as the sole symptom of a heart attack. Usually there will be other accompanying
symptoms of a heart problem, such as: chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea
See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR TOOTHACHE
Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If:
Call Your Dentist or Doctor Now (night or day) If:
- You feel weak
or very sick
- Fever is present
- Face is swollen
- Tongue is very swollen and
- Severe pain
Call Your Dentist Within 24 Hours (between 9 am
and 4 pm) If:
- You think
you need to be seen
- Toothache present longer than 24 hours
- Brown cavity visible in the painful tooth
- Red or yellow lump (pus
pocket) present at the gum line of the painful tooth
Call Your Dentist During Weekday Office Hours If:
- You have
other questions or concerns
- Easy bleeding present in other family members
- Hard-to-stop nosebleeds are a recurrent problem
Self Care at Home If:
- Mild toothache
present less than 24 hours and you don't think you need to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD TOOTHACHE
Most toothaches are temporary and due to a sensitive tooth. If the pain
becomes worse or doesn't resolve in 24 hours, it could due to a small cavity.
Floss: Floss on either side of the painful tooth to remove any wedged
Pain Medication: For pain relief, take acetaminophen every 4-6 hours
(e.g. Tylenol; adult dosage 650 mg) OR ibuprofen every 6-8 hours (e.g. Advil,
Motrin; adult dosage 400 mg).
- Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease,
are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory
drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
- Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
- Read the package instructions thoroughly on all medications
that you take.
Local Cold: Apply an ice pack to the painful jaw for 20 minutes
Expected Course: Most minor causes of toothache resolve in less than
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Toothache persists longer than 24 hours
- The toothache becomes worse or develops any of the "Call
Your Dentist" symptoms.
This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical
advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full
responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Adult HouseCalls Online. Copyright © 2000-2004
David Thompson, M.D. FACEP
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