Which painkillers work best for toothache?



Toothache has several causes. If you have been having toothache for more than one or two days, seek help from your local dentist so that the problem can be identified and managed quickly.

But if that is not possible immediately, which painkillers can take the edge off the discomfort?

This post contain advice for adults. For advice on managing toothache in children, click here.

For adults, Paracetamol is a good start as it is effective and side effects are relatively rare.

Ibuprofen may also be taken if Paracetamol alone is not working. Read more about whether you can take Paracetamol and Ibuprofen together.

Causes of toothache

There are a number of causes of toothache. It is best to see your dentist as soon as possible so that the correct treatment can be provided promptly.

Patients who put off attending and “get by” on painkillers usually find that treatment results can be poorer. A tooth caught early may be able to be filled. A tooth left too long may need a more complicated ( and expensive) root filling or even extraction.

If fear of the dentist is putting you off regular dental checkups, read about “gentle dentistry” techniques which may be able to put you at ease.

The causes of toothache include:

1.    Tooth decay

The nerve is in the middle of the tooth ( in what is called the “pulp” of the tooth). Tooth decay can spread into the pulp causing it to irritate the nerves… which is toothache.

Simple treatment may be effective: the dentist can remove the decay and place a filling.

But if the decay is left untreated, the pulp can die off and become rotten. This progresses eventually to a tooth abscess (or “gum boil”). At this stage the tooth has to be either extracted or (if it is to be saved) the nerve removed via root canal treatment.

2.    Trauma to the front teeth

The nerve can be damaged by acute trauma to the teeth. Again, there may be simple options such as splinting the tooth or teeth in question.

But if the trauma has been severe, the nerve of the tooth may die, with the treatment options being extraction or root canal treatment.

3.    Sensitivity to hot and cold

This can be an early sign of tooth decay, but may also be due to gum recession which exposes the roots of the teeth.

You can read more about sensitive teeth

4.    Gum disease

Poor oral hygiene can cause infections of the gums., which can manifest as “toothache”.   This requires professional treatment to clean the gum areas and advise on good oral hygiene habits.

4 ways to help prevent toothache

·      Attend regular dental check ups

Your dental team will be able to help you avoid tooth decay and gum disease.

·      Cut down on sugary foods and drinks

These cause tooth decay (as well as obesity and type 2 diabetes)

·      Brush and floss your teeth regularly

Your dental team will show the most effective techniques.

·      Avoid smoking

Smoking is a risk factor in gum disease… and will make any treatment you may be having for gum disease ineffective.

Useful links

NHS Choices

British Dental Health Foundation

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.