Coping with dental pain

Beautiful woman smile mouth and lips with health teeth close up on nature green background, concept for skincare and dental health care , model is a asian girl

Most people would agree there are few things in life as painful as toothache. Similar pains are earache or kidney stones.  It can be distressing not only for the sufferer but for family and friends.  Ultimately our advice would be to contact a dentist as soon as possible so that you can be assessed and treated immediately to prevent infection and swelling but sometimes this is not possible, for example if you work away, are on holiday or over the weekend.


  • Take painkillers/analgesics. Toothache is caused by inflammation therefore take anti inflammatories such as ibuprofen, aspirin, paracetamol or codeine. Obviously if you have any underlying medical conditions or take any medication that may interact with these painkillers then ask the pharmacist.  The pharmacist will also be able to advise you on combinations of painkillers should you not be managing the pain very well, for example you can take ibuprofen three times daily and paracetamol four times daily as a combination remedy but consult your pharmacist to ensure this is safe for you.  Asthma sufferers should know about avoidance of certain painkillers and stick to given advice.
  • Get some sleep and rest when painkillers have taken effect and also eat and drink.  This is important so when you do get to see the dentist, should you need to have treatment the same day you are in a better frame of mind to cope with the situation if you are not tired and hungry.  This is especially important with children as we all know what a tired child can be like!!!
  • If swelling is present applying ice cold water on a non vital tooth (a dead tooth) can help to numb the pain.  If however cold is an irritant to the tooth then do not apply.  Any redness of the surrounding skin will also appreciate a cold flannel from the fridge or freezer.
  • If there is a hole in the tooth you could try a home temporary filling kit or a small piece of sugar free chewing gum in the cavity.  Wax from ‘Baby Bell’ cheese has also been known to ease sharp edges of teeth when filings have been lost or holes are present.  These are all very temporary solutions and seeking professional dental care will be your quickest route to solving your pain or problem.
  • Should your gums be very sore, throbbing or aching- do stop smoking! Do gently brush the teeth  and gums even if bleeding.  Warm salt mouthwash will ease aching gums or alternatively corsodyl or peroxyl mouthwash.  This will be a recurring problem if you do not seek professional dental care as you probably need a descaling of the teeth to prevent gum recession and possible tooth loss.
  • Bonjela remedies may temporarily help but tend to mask the problem as they contain topical anaesthetic and are not advised for long term use.
  • If you have wisdom tooth pain, do try and keep the area as clean as possible to prevent food or debris getting stuck under the gum flap. By gently brushing the gum you may dislodge the irritant and help the gum to settle.
  • Contact a dental professional if you have a persistent ulcer or sore in your mouth.  It is important to have regular check ups to check for any abnormal growths or sores.  Oral cancer has a strong association with smoking and alcohol consumption and your dentist or GP can assist you with quit smoking groups and advice.


  • Don’t put hot water bottles on your face.  It may feel nice but will draw any underlying infection into the skin and cheeks.
  • Don’t smoke – it changes the bacteria type in your mouth so that the problem and pain can worsen.
  • Don’t put painkillers on the gum next to the tooth. The painkiller tablet may burn the gum and worsen the pain.
  • Don’t let the problem continue. Contact a dental practice for an emergency appointment or your local health board for the out of hours emergency service.
  • A note about use of antibiotics: It may be that someone will tell you antibiotics will solve the problem. They are correct to some extent but only as a temporary measure in some dental situations.  Your pain will continue to recur if you have a dead tooth so you need to seek professional advice and have the tooth treated, which may mean removal or treatment to try and save it.  The longer you leave an infected tooth, the less likely it is that you will be able to fix and keep it.


Please contact us at either of our practices where one of our dentists will endeavour to see you the same day in order to fix your problem

Nelson – 01443 451851

Ystrad Mynach – 01443 812559

thegrovedentalCoping with dental pain