Toothache  

This Care Guide Covers:

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

If not, see these topics
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Dentist or Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Fever is present
  • Face is swollen
  • Severe pain and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Dentist Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Toothache lasts more than 24 hours
  • Brown or dark spot in the painful tooth
  • Red or yellow lump at the gumline of the painful tooth
Call Your Dentist During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Mild toothache present less than 24 hours
Causes & Health Information

Causes

  • 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.
CARE ADVICE FOR MILD TOOTHACHE

  1. 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.
  2. Floss:
    • Floss on either side of the painful tooth to remove any wedged food.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  4. Cold Pack:
    • Put a cold pack or ice in a wet washcloth on the painful jaw. Do this for 20 minutes.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Most minor causes of toothache go away in less than a day.
  6. Call Your Dentist If:
    • Toothache lasts more than 24 hours
    • The toothache gets worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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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.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.