Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

Home / Health Insurance / Articles / First Aid / First Aid Guide: Toothache

First Aid Guide: Toothache

Team AckoMay 27, 2024

Experiencing a toothache can be distressing, but swift action can prevent it from becoming a medical emergency. Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief. Avoid placing any medication directly on the gums, as it can cause irritation. Read his article to get to know some best practices regarding first aid for Toothaches (TA). 





What are the reasons for a Toothache?

Toothache is one of the most common dental problems around the world, affecting millions of people of all ages. It is a painful sensation that can range from mild discomfort to excruciating pain and can be caused by a variety of factors. Let's take a look at the common causes of Toothache.

Tooth decay: It is a major cause of TA. It mainly occurs when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugars and starches in your foods creating acid that erodes the enamel and causes cavities. When these cavities are left untreated, they can lead to infection and inflammation of the tooth pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels), resulting in a painful TA.

Gum diseases: When the gums become inflamed and infected, they pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria can thrive, leading to tooth decay and eventually TA. 

Accidents: Dental trauma or injury, such as a cracked or broken tooth, or a tooth that has been knocked out or displaced can be another key cause of TA.

Health conditions: Underlying conditions like sinusitis, ear infections, or even heart disease can cause referred pain in your teeth. 

Pain due to braces: If you have crooked teeth, chances are you will be advised dental braces. Many people with braces experience a certain degree of tooth pain during the initial phase of treatment.

How to prevent Toothaches

With regular care and attention, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy and pain-free for years. Here's how.

Practise excellent oral hygiene measures such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. 

If you get a TA, contact your dentist as soon as possible since early care can prevent additional damage to your teeth and gums and help relieve pain and discomfort. 

Follow your dentist's advice. Your dentist may prescribe a root canal or other dental procedure in some circumstances to treat the underlying cause of the pain and restore your oral health. 

Quick action: First aid guide for Toothaches

Toothache is one of the most terrible aches one can endure. It can make eating, speaking, and going about daily tasks difficult. The good news is that you can attempt numerous first-aid solutions to ease the discomfort until you can visit a dentist.

Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater is one of the most obvious and simple cures. Saltwater aids in the reduction of inflammation and the killing of microorganisms that may be causing the discomfort. Stir one teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and swirl it around your mouth for a few minutes before spitting it out.

Clove oil is well-known for its pain-relieving qualities and is a popular natural Toothache cure. Apply clove oil to the afflicted region using a cotton ball for a few minutes. You may also chew on a clove or combine clove powder with water.

To treat discomfort, you can also use over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you have any underlying medical concerns, make sure to follow the advised dosage and check with a healthcare expert.

If your Toothache is caused by sinus pressure or congestion, try using a saline nasal spray or taking a decongestant to help relieve the pressure and pain.

Stick to softer things like soups, smoothies, and mashed potatoes instead of hard or crunchy items that may aggravate the discomfort. 

If you have swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek to help reduce it. Place a cold compress, such as an ice pack, on the outside of your cheek near the affected tooth. This can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain.

Maintain proper dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly and visiting a dentist for routine check-ups.

Use dental floss to remove any food particles trapped between your teeth. Sometimes, TA are caused by food particles that are stuck between your teeth. Flossing can help remove these particles and relieve the pain. Be gentle when flossing to avoid further irritation.

If the pain persists, or increases, see your dentist. Your teeth might need professional cleaning or root canal therapy to ease the pain.

Over-the-counter relief options for toothaches

When a toothache strikes unexpectedly, it can be distressing. While awaiting a dentist appointment, several over-the-counter (OTC) options can offer relief and manage discomfort. Here's a breakdown of effective OTC remedies under various categories:


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen are frontline medications for tooth pain relief. These medications reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, prolonged use of NSAIDs can pose risks such as stomach irritation, kidney issues, and liver damage. It's crucial to adhere strictly to recommended dosages and avoid extended usage without medical supervision.

These medications can effectively reduce swelling around the affected tooth, providing temporary relief from the intense pain associated with toothaches. Individuals experiencing toothache discomfort can benefit from NSAIDs' anti-inflammatory properties, which target the root cause of the pain.

Toothache drops and gels

Medicated gels or drops containing ingredients like benzocaine offer localised relief by numbing the affected area. These products provide immediate but temporary relief from toothache discomfort. It's important to use them according to the instructions provided on the packaging to avoid adverse effects or complications. While these products can provide symptomatic relief, they do not address the underlying dental issue causing the pain.

Tooth pain gels and drops are particularly useful for individuals experiencing localised pain and discomfort. By numbing the affected area, these products provide temporary relief, allowing individuals to manage their symptoms while awaiting dental treatment.


For individuals unable to tolerate NSAIDs or with specific medical conditions, acetaminophen (Tylenol) serves as a viable alternative for managing toothache pain. Like NSAIDs, it's essential to adhere to dosage instructions meticulously to prevent liver damage. Acetaminophen can provide temporary relief until a dental consultation can address the underlying cause of the toothache.

Acetaminophen works by blocking pain signals sent to the brain, providing relief from toothache discomfort without targeting inflammation. It's important to note that while acetaminophen can alleviate pain, it does not address the underlying dental issue causing the discomfort.

Temporary fillings

OTC temporary tooth fillings and repair kits are valuable for addressing structural damage, such as lost fillings or loose caps. These kits typically include materials to temporarily seal and protect the affected tooth until a permanent solution can be implemented by a dentist. It's important to note that temporary fillings are not a long-term solution and should be promptly replaced with permanent fillings or restorations to maintain oral health.

Temporary fillings serve as a temporary measure to prevent further damage or infection to the affected tooth. While they provide short-term relief, it's essential to seek professional dental care to address the underlying issue and ensure proper restoration of the tooth's structure and function.

Things to avoid

When you have a toothache, certain activities should be avoided to prevent exacerbating the discomfort and worsening dental health. Smoking and chewing tobacco are particularly detrimental as they contribute to tooth decay and overall oral health deterioration. These habits not only increase the risk of dental problems but can also intensify the pain associated with a toothache.

Additionally, it's crucial to practise gentle oral hygiene habits during this time. Avoid brushing or flossing too vigorously to prevent enamel wear and damage to teeth and gums. Opting for a softer brushing technique can help maintain oral hygiene without causing further irritation to the affected tooth.

Controlling food habits

Individuals should be mindful of their eating habits. Crunchy or sticky foods can aggravate tooth sensitivity and potentially damage already weakened teeth. Opting for softer, less abrasive foods can help alleviate discomfort and prevent further trauma to the affected tooth.

Lastly, hot or cold drinks and foods should be avoided, especially if any nerves are exposed, as they can exacerbate tooth sensitivity and increase discomfort. By avoiding these activities, individuals can effectively manage toothache symptoms and promote better oral health outcomes until they can seek professional dental care.

Caution with benzocaine products

It's crucial to exercise caution when considering the use of over-the-counter (OTC) antiseptics containing benzocaine for temporary toothache relief due to its association with methemoglobinemia, a rare but serious condition that reduces oxygen levels in the blood. Before using any benzocaine-containing products, it's essential to consult with a dentist or doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions or allergies.

In particular, parents should avoid using benzocaine-based products, such as teething gels, in children younger than 2 years old due to the increased risk of adverse effects. Additionally, it's crucial to adhere strictly to the recommended dosage and never exceed it, as excessive benzocaine exposure can worsen the risk of methemoglobinemia.

When to see a dentist for a Toothache?

Knowing when to seek professional dental care for a TA is crucial to ensure that the underlying issue causing the pain is accurately diagnosed and treated. Here are some general guidelines you can follow.

Pain lasting longer than two days: If your TA persists beyond two days, it's recommended to see a dentist. Long-lasting pain can indicate a severe issue like an infection that requires immediate attention.

Swelling or fever: If you have accompanying symptoms like swelling or fever, it is essential to visit a dentist as soon as possible. These symptoms may indicate an infection that can spread and cause more significant health problems.

Difficulty eating or opening your mouth: If your TA interferes with your ability to eat or open your mouth, it's time to see a dentist. This may indicate a serious dental issue that requires attention.

Tooth sensitivity: If you experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks lasting more than a few seconds, it is essential to visit a dentist. This sensitivity could be a sign of tooth decay or another issue that needs treatment.

Broken or damaged tooth: If you have a broken or damaged tooth that is causing pain, it's crucial to see a dentist. Broken or damaged teeth can lead to further dental issues if left untreated.

If you have braces on, and start experiencing pain: Consider a follow-up visit to your dentist. He might readjust the wires or decrease the pressure of the wires, and provide relief.

Expert recommendation: It's important to see a dentist if you have a Toothache. Getting help quickly can relieve the pain and stop the problem from getting worse. Remember, waiting too long can make the problem more serious, so don't be afraid to make an appointment. Taking care of your teeth is important and seeing a dentist can help you keep them healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to first aid for Toothache.


Can a Toothache be a sign of a serious health issue?

Yes, in some cases, a TA can be a symptom of a serious health issue like an infection, oral cancer, or a heart attack. That's why it's important to seek professional dental care if your TA persists or is accompanied by other symptoms.

Can I prevent Toothaches from occurring?

Yes, practising good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sugary foods and drinks, and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups can help prevent TA.

Can a Toothache go away on its own?

While some mild TA may go away on their own, it's important to seek professional dental care if your TA persists or worsens.

How long should I wait before seeking professional dental care for a Toothache?

If your TA lasts longer than two days or is accompanied by other symptoms like fever or swelling, it's important to seek professional dental care promptly.

What are some home remedies for Toothaches?

Some home remedies for TA include using over-the-counter pain medication, applying a cold compress to the affected area, rinsing your mouth with salt water, or applying a numbing agent like clove oil.

What should I do if I can't see a dentist right away for a Toothache?

If you can't see a dentist right away, you can try using over-the-counter pain medication, applying a cold compress to the affected area, or using a numbing agent like clove oil. However, it's still important to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Can certain foods and drinks worsen a Toothache?

Yes, certain foods and drinks like sugary and acidic foods and drinks, hot or cold beverages, and hard or crunchy foods can worsen TA by irritating the affected tooth or gum area. It's best to avoid these types of foods and drinks if you have a TA.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


Want to post any comments?


Affordable Health Insurance for You & Your Family starting @ ₹20/day*

✅ 100% Room Rent Covered* ✅ Zero deductions at claims ✅ 7100+ Cashless Hospitals

quote icon

Check health insurance

quote icon