Doctors and providers who treat this condition


Dental Pain

Cross-section image two teeth, the gum and the jaw, showing the enamel, dentin, nerve, artery, vein, pulp, root, and bone.

A crack or cavity in a tooth can cause tooth pain. This is because the crack or cavity exposes the sensitive inner area of the tooth. An infection in the gum or the root of the tooth can cause pain and swelling. The pain is often made worse when you drink hot or cold beverages. It can also be worse when you bite on hard foods. Pain may spread from the tooth to your ear or the area of the jaw on the same side.

Home care

Follow these tips when caring for yourself at home:

  • Avoid hot and cold foods and drinks. Your tooth may be sensitive to changes in temperature.

  • Use toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Brush up and down instead of sideways. Brushing sideways can wear away root surfaces if they are exposed.

  • If your tooth is chipped or cracked, or if there is a large open cavity, put oil of cloves directly on the tooth to relieve pain. You can buy oil of cloves at drugstores. Some pharmacies carry an over-the-counter "toothache kit." This contains a paste that you can put on the exposed tooth to make it less sensitive.

  • Put a cold pack on your jaw over the sore area to help reduce pain.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. Note: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your health care provider before using these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding.

  • If you have signs of an infection, you will be given an antibiotic. Take it as directed.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your dentist as advised. Your pain may go away with the treatment given today. But only a dentist can fully look at and treat the cause of your pain. This will keep the pain from coming back.

A toothache is a sign of disease in your tooth. It should be looked at and treated by a dentist.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Your face becomes swollen or red

  • Pain gets worse or spreads to your neck

  • Fever over 100.4º F (38.0º C)

  • Unusual drowsiness

  • Headache or stiff neck

  • Weakness or fainting

  • Pus drains from the tooth

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing


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