The First Thing You Should Do If You Have A Toothache

If you've ever had a toothache, you know it can leave you feeling miserable all day long, no matter how dull or sharp the pain may be. A toothache occurs when the nerve in or around a tooth's root is irritated, per WebMD. Many dental patients just want to find quick relief from a toothache so they can resume their daily activities. However, it's important to first find out what's causing your toothache. A toothache can happen for a number of reasons, including a cracked tooth, teeth grinding, or an infected nerve.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cavities and tooth decay are the most common causes of toothaches. Mouths are full of bacteria, and when certain foods are eaten — foods particularly high in starches and sugar — the bacteria begin to develop into plaque on your teeth, creating tooth decay or cavities. Too much plaque can be detrimental to your dental health because it slowly eats through your enamel, the white coating on your teeth. Enamel acts as a protector for your pearly whites.

How to treat a toothache

For those who want immediate relief from a mild toothache, there are many steps you can take to treat it at home before heading to your dentist's office. Many people turn to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine to treat a toothache. Addressing a toothache with over-the-counter medicine, like ibuprofen, can relieve any pain or discomfort you're feeling until you receive treatment (via the Mayo Clinic). In addition to anti-inflammatory medicine, you'll want to rinse your mouth with warm salt water and use a cold compress.

Healthline notes that a warm salt water rinse can help reduce inflammation and pain while loosening any debris stuck in your teeth. The mixture of salt and warm water acts as a mouthwash and can be used 2-3 times daily. Once you've rinsed your mouth with warm salt water, use a cold compress to help with the pain. According to River Birch Dental, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables as a cold compress and place it directly over the site of your pain. This will help reduce any swelling or inflammation until you can make an appointment with your dentist.