You’ve probably experienced tooth pain at some point, whether from a loose tooth, impacted wisdom tooth, or sensitivity when you bite into an ice cream cone or a hot potato. But tooth pain can be an early sign of tooth decay. If you notice consistent pain in a tooth that lasts for more than a day or two, see your dentist; you may need some dental work. Tooth decay causes pain in children, too, so the same rules apply. If your child complains of a persistent toothache, move up the schedule of that next dental visit to as soon as possible. Also see the dentist immediately if your toothaches (or your child’s) are accompanied by a fever, or if you have trouble breathing or swallowing.
Meanwhile, there are some steps that you can take to relieve tooth aches and tooth pain until you make it to the dentist’s office.
- Floss carefully to remove any food particles wedged between the teeth or along the gum line that could be causing pain. If your child is the one with the toothache, help him or her do a thorough flossing job.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water, then spit it out. This may also flush out food particles that could be causing tooth pain.
- Try an over-the-counter pain medication.
- Try an over-the-counter topical pain reliever with benzocaine that you can apply directly to the painful area. But don’t put aspirin or other painkillers directly on your gum tissue or in your tooth—it will burn.