Toothache Medicine: What Are Your Options?

When a toothache strikes, treating the pain is top of mind. The first course of action is to make an appointment with your dentist to diagnose the cause and treat your pain. But for fast relief at home in the interim, here are some toothache medicine options that may alleviate the symptoms.

Common Causes of Toothaches

Your teeth and mouth are vulnerable to many issues that cause toothaches:

  • Sharp pain or a dull ache may accompany a cavity.
  • Extended throbbing may mean you're suffering from an infection or abscess in your tooth or gums.
  • You might mistake intense sinus pressure for a painful toothache. Mucous accumulation in your sinuses can create pressure on one or more of your upper teeth.
  • Gingivitis, which can lead to gum disease, can create areas that are sore around your teeth and gums.

Over-the-Counter Toothache Medicine

Depending on your symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) medicine and temperature treatments are some ways you can help ease toothache pain while you're awaiting professional care.

Benzocaine is a topical anesthetic that temporarily soothes and relieves pain on the treated area. When spread over teeth and gums, the numbing sensation can decrease sore gum pain, the pang of a toothache and sinus-related toothache pressure. However, according to the American Dental Association, benzocaine should not be used for children younger than 2 years old.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a safe way to alleviate tooth pain from cavities, gum disease or sinus pressure in the short-term. Some NSAIDs are available OTC. They not only cut the sharp pain accompanying a cavity, but also help reduce inflammation, per the Cleveland Clinic. You can decrease your inflammation, a painful symptom of sinusitis, gingivitis and abscessed teeth, with aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. However, NSAIDs shouldn't be used for more than 10 days without talking to your doctor.

Whereas NSAIDs act as a pain reliever and an inflammation and fever reducer, acetaminophen works as a pain reliever and fever reducer but doesn't treat inflammation, says the Food and Drug Administration. Because of its pain-relieving properties, acetaminophen is a good first line of pain defense for the sharp twinge accompanying the onset of a cavity as well as the extended throbbing that can often follow.

Home Remedies for Treating Oral Pain

Oftentimes, medicinal home remedies can help decrease pain in conjunction with OTC pain medicine.

When sinus pressure leads to a toothache, try a hot, steamy shower to help loosen the mucus buildup in your cheeks and relieve pressure on your teeth. Likewise, keep a cold ice pack on hand to numb the feeling of pressure on your upper teeth.

As an alternative to benzocaine, you may want to try clove oil, another numbing agent. You can apply clove oil directly on your pulsating tooth abscess or inflamed gums to bring quick relief.

Solution for Long-term Relief

If you feel your tooth beginning to ache or your gums becoming sore, pain relievers are only a stopgap until you can see your dentist. Keep in mind that delaying treatment may only worsen the underlying condition. Maintain your dental health by brushing twice daily with a toothpaste like Colgate Total® Daily Repair Toothpaste which repairs early teeth and gum damage, flossing once per day, and scheduling six-month checkups to catch potential problems before they become painful.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.