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  • Toothache


    • Pain or discomfort in a tooth
    • Not caused by an injury


    • Main cause: tooth decay
    • Food wedged between the teeth
    • Injured tooth

    Tooth Abscess and Severe Pain

    • A tooth abscess can cause severe pain not controlled by normal pain medicines.
    • Root canal therapy by an endodontist is needed to cure this problem.
    • In the meantime, call your dentist’s office. If you can’t reach your dentist, call your doctor for advice. They can often bring the pain under control by calling in a prescription. Most often, this is for an antibiotic such as penicillin or amoxicillin.

    When to Call Us for Toothache

    Parent Care at Home If:

    • Mild toothache present less than 24 hours

    Care Advice for Mild Toothaches

    What You Should Know:

    • Most toothaches don’t last too long. They are due to a sensitive tooth.
    • If the pain becomes worse or doesn’t go away in 24 hours, call your dentist. The pain could be due to a small cavity.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.


    • Floss on either side of the painful tooth to remove any wedged food.

    Pain Medicine:

    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.

    Cold Pack:

    • Put a cold pack or ice in a wet washcloth on the painful jaw. Do this for 20 minutes.

    What to Expect:

    • Most minor causes of toothache go away in less than a day.

    Call Your Doctor If:

    • Toothache lasts more than 24 hours The toothache gets worse

    Disclaimer: 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.

    Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
    Copyright 1994-2013 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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