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How To Manage a Toothache Caused By Tooth Decay

Toothache Remedies

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Updated April 28, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

How To Manage a Toothache Caused By Tooth Decay Photo © Tammy Davenport, Licensed to About, Inc.

A toothache caused by tooth decay can cause a great deal of pain. Until you are able to see your dentist to have the tooth restored, here are some ways for you to ease your discomfort:

  • Avoid foods and beverages that are very cold or very hot. Since the dentin layer of the tooth has been invaded by the tooth decay, extremes in temperature may cause pain.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that are very high in sugar, or are very acidic.
  • Use an over-the-counter pain relief medicine. Never exceed the recommended dose, and check to make sure you are able to take pain relief medications with any of the other medications you may currently be on. Generally speaking, a pain relief medication that is intended to reduced inflammation works best for dental pain, because most toothaches are caused by an inflammation of the tissues or the inflammation of the nerve. Never put pain relief medication on the tooth or gum tissue, as this could burn the tissue.
  • Try flossing between the teeth that are painful. Removing the food particles and plaque may help reduce the pain from the toothache.
  • Try using oil of cloves (eugenol). Eugenol, which can be found in most health food stores, is used in various dental materials because of its antiseptic and anesthetic properties. Using eugenol at home may help reduce pain from a toothache. Soak a small piece of cotton in the oil, then blot the cotton on a piece of tissue to remove the excess. Using a clean pair of tweezers, hold the cotton on the painful tooth for 10 seconds, making sure you do not swallow any of the oil.

  • Seal the hole temporarily. Some pharmacies have over-the counter temporary filling material that may be used to seal the hole created by decay temporarily.
  • Don't delay. A toothache that is caused by tooth decay may come and go; but don't be fooled. The longer you wait to have the decay removed from the tooth, the deeper the cavity will progress. What may have been a need for a simple filling could turn into a necessary root canal or even extraction. As soon as you develop a toothache, see your dentist immediately.

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