Roughly two out of five Americans — kids and adults — have an untreated cavity, with many others dealing with tooth pain from cracks, chips, and infections. Pain in a tooth is never normal — it’s your tooth’s way of letting you know you have a problem that needs to be dealt with.
While you don’t want to delay dental care, it’s not always possible to have a same-day appointment. While you’re waiting, you still want to be able to manage the pain.
The team at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC in New York City knows that even a “little” toothache can have a big impact on your life. Until your appointment time rolls around, here are 10 things you can do to reduce or relieve dental pain and stay comfortable.
1. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
Look for medicine to subdue pain and relieve inflammation, which could be contributing to your pain. Take only as much and as often as the label indicates — if your pain doesn’t subside, don’t be tempted to take more than recommended.
2. Apply ice to your cheek
Ice or a cold compress can help decrease swelling, too, and it can also provide temporary numbness to the area. Don’t apply it directly to your tooth — that could make the pain worse. Hold an ice pack or cold compress against the outside of your cheek instead.
3. Use a topical agent
Over-the-counter toothache gels are designed to temporarily numb the area around the tooth. Use a tube with an applicator or opt for a cotton swab. If you must use your finger, be sure it’s scrupulously clean to avoid spreading germs to your tooth.
4. Try flossing around the tooth
If your tooth pain started after a meal or snack, you might have some food material lodged between your teeth. Gently flossing around the tooth could help dislodge material that might be causing pain.
5. Rinse with tepid salt water
Salt works by bringing down swelling that could be pressing on tooth nerves. Mix a half tablespoon of salt into an 8-ounce glass of water, and be sure the water isn’t too cold or too hot. Swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds or so, then spit it out.
6. Drink through a straw
If you have a cavity, cold or hot liquids could make the pain worse. In addition to avoiding very hot or cold foods, try drinking liquids through a straw to limit contact with your teeth.
7. Apply some clove oil
Sold in the same aisle as topical toothache gels, clove oil is an old-fashioned remedy that really works. Clove oil temporarily numbs the area around your tooth. Use it sparingly, and apply it using the same tips listed above.
8. Ice your fingers
Some people find rubbing a piece of ice between the thumb and forefinger helps relieve pain. Researchers think the action interferes with pain signals in your brain. Make sure to use ice on the hand that’s on the same side as the tooth that hurts.
9. Avoid sugary foods
Sugars often irritate nerve endings exposed by tooth decay, cracks, or infections. Avoiding sugary drinks and foods until your dentist visit could help prevent your symptoms from getting worse.
10. Try some vanilla
If you don’t have a topical toothache gel or clove oil at home, you can try applying a little vanilla extract. Composed mostly of alcohol, vanilla may temporarily numb the area while you head to the drugstore for a topical product. (You can dab on a little “straight” alcohol, too.)
Don't delay your office visit
These tips can help relieve or reduce pain temporarily, but even if your tooth pain subsides, you still need to have it evaluated. Delaying care is a sure way to allow the underlying problem to worsen, which means eventually, you’ll need treatment that’s more complex — and could possibly be more costly.
To schedule a toothache evaluation or to learn more about how we treat tooth pain, call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/ NYC today.