Overview

Toothache
Toothache

When you contact your dental practice or Health Board for a dental appointment, you MUST tell them if you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID19) OR you are currently self-isolating OR you have possible symptoms.

Dental practices have to comply with social distancing measures so please do not attend without having made an appointment first.

Toothache means pain in and around the teeth and jaws and is usually caused by tooth decay.

Tooth decay can be prevented by reducing the amount of sugar you eat and drink and brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Try to brush before bed and on one other occasion. After brushing, spit but do not rinse with water.

How do people describe toothache?

People experience toothache in a variety of ways.

Toothache can come and go or be constant. Eating or drinking can make the pain worse, particularly if the food or drink is hot or cold.

The pain can be mild or severe. It may feel "sharp" and start suddenly. It can be worse at night, particularly when you're lying down. It can be difficult to decide whether the pain is in your upper or lower teeth. When a lower molar tooth is affected, the pain can often feel like it's coming from the ear.

Toothache in other upper teeth may feel like it's coming from the sinuses in your upper jaw (the small, air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones). It is possible for pain from sinuses also feel like toothache.

The area of your jaw close to the infected tooth may also be sore and tender to touch. It's also possible for periodontal disease (commonly known as ‘gum disease’) to give rise to a "dull" pain in gum around the affected tooth.

Are dental practices open if you need advice or treatment?

Yes, dental practices are open during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

If you have toothache, call your dental practice for advice. They will carry out remote consultation over the phone/video before seeing you in person in the practice if treatment is required.

If you do not have a regular dentist you need to call the appropriate dental helpline number for your Local Health Board area.

Find a dentist near you.

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, some urgent dental treatments for some patients may need to carried out in designated Urgent Dental Treatment Centres or selected dental practices. Your practice will know how to refer, if required.

How can you help yourself?

In the meantime, try the following, which may provide some relief from toothache:

  • Avoid things that bring on pain or make it worse such as hot or cold food and drink, cold air or sweet food and drink
  • Use painkillers that have successfully provided pain relief for you in the past without adverse effects such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. For dosage advice please see the package. BE CAREFUL not to overdose. Remember that different brand names can contain the same painkillers
  • Pain from the mouth or teeth sometimes may feel worse when lying flat. Try lying propped up as this might ease the pain
  • If you have tooth decay, reducing sugar intake will help to stop it getting worse
  • Holding cooled water or crushed ice around the tooth can help some types of dental pain. But beware that it may make sensitivity on some teeth worse
  • Keep your mouth clean by brushing with toothpaste at least twice a day. Spit toothpaste out but do not rinse
  • Remember that antibiotics don’t cure toothache

Why does some toothache feel worse than others?

Most people experience severe toothache when the innermost layer of the tooth (dental pulp) becomes inflamed or infected. The pulp is made up of sensitive nerves and blood vessels.

Dental pulp can become inflamed or infected as a result of tooth decay, a cracked or broken tooth, a lost or broken filling or receding gums.

There are conditions that cause pain that people describe as toothache, even though the pulp isn't affected. The sources of pain could include sore or swollen gums around a tooth that's breaking through (e.g. wisdom teeth), ulcers on your gums, sinusitis, an abscess on the gum, pain in the joint connecting the jaw to the skull (temporomandibular joint) etc.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 20/07/2020 07:15:34