Tips for Relieving Tooth Decay Pain

But Remember, Tooth Decay Pain Won't Improve on Its Own

woman with tooth pain touching face
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If you're like most people, you don't have to be told that tooth decay pain can really hurt. You've been there! So -- what did you do until you could get in to see your dentist? Did it help? Even if it did, there may be more you could have done. Check out the following tips, just in case tooth decay pain comes your way again.

  • Before you take any pain-relief steps, call your dentist for an appointment as soon as possible. Or ask someone else to call. If you can't be seen right away, ask the dentist what you can do to relieve the pain. To prevent drug interactions, be sure to tell him or her what medications you're currently taking.
  • 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, it may react painfully to extremes in temperature.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that are very high in sugar or are very acidic. These two "opposites" can both worsen tooth decay.
  • If your dentist agrees, take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication. These products often relieve tooth decay pain, although perhaps not entirely. Whatever their effect when you take them, never exceed the recommended dose. Generally speaking, a pain relief medication that reduces inflammation works best for dental pain, because most toothaches are caused by inflammation of the tissues or the nerve. (Ibuprofen is a good example of an anti-inflammatory pain reliever.) Never put pain relief medication on the tooth or gum tissue, as this could cause "burning."
  • Try flossing between the teeth that are painful. Removing the food particles and plaque may help reduce the toothache pain.
  • Try using oil of cloves (eugenol). Found in most health food stores, eugenol is used in various dental materials because of its antiseptic (and most important when you're in pain, its anesthetic) properties. Using eugenol at home may help reduce your tooth decay pain. 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 don't swallow any of the oil.
  • If possible, seal the hole temporarily. Some pharmacies have OTC temporary filling material that you may be able to use to seal the decay-created hole, at least temporarily.
  • Again, don't delay seeing your dentist. As soon as you develop a toothache, see your dentist as quickly as you can. Sometimes tooth decay pain may seem to come and go, or appear to get better for a time, making you think you can postpone doing something about it. But don't be fooled. The longer you wait to have the decay removed from the tooth, the deeper the cavity will go -- and the more pain it may cause. You could end up needing a root canal or even a tooth extraction instead of a simple filling. 

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