Toothache is pain in or around a tooth.
Sometimes, pain that's felt in the tooth is actually due to pain in other parts of the body. This is called referred pain. For example, an earache may sometimes cause tooth pain.
You can use over-the-counter pain medications while waiting to see the dentist or primary health care provider.
The dentist may recommend antibiotic therapy and other treatments, like a root canal for toothaches caused by a tooth abscess.
Use good oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay. A low sugar diet is recommended along with regular flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and regular professional cleaning. Sealants and fluoride applications by the dentist are important for preventing tooth decay.
Seek medical care if:
Note: The dentist is an appropriate person to see for most causes of toothaches. However, if the problem is referred pain from another location, you may need to see your primary health care provider.
The dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, throat, ears, nose, and neck. You may need dental x-rays. The dentist may recommend other tests, depending on the suspected cause.
The dentist will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Treatment may involve fillings, tooth removal, or a root canal, if the problem is severe. You may need to take an antibiotic for an infection.
Pain - tooth or teeth
Benko K. Emergency dental procedures. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2013:chap 64.
Updated by: Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Palm Beach Prosthodontics Dental Associates, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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