How to Stop Toothache Pain | Smile Stories

How to Stop Toothache Pain

Want to know how to stop toothache pain?

Toothache can range from an annoying sensitivity when you eat something cold, to severe debilitating throbbing, making you scared to move.

If your dentist cannot give you a quick appointment then toothache can cause great distress.

In this article, you’ll learn what causes toothache and how to stop toothache pain at home until you can see your dentist.

how to stop toothache pain

Sensitive toothache

What does it feel like?

Tooth sensitivity is usually a shooting pain that shoots out from your tooth. It will normally last only for a second or two then disappear.

Why does it happen?

When the dentine layer of your tooth is exposed you may encounter pain.

Dentine is normally hidden under the enamel (which protects it) but can be exposed due to excessive brushing, tooth wear, grinding, gum disease or decay.

How to stop sensitivity toothache pain

sensodyne to help sensitivity tooth pain

Tooth nerve pain relief can be done in two ways:

Firstly, start using sensitive toothpaste (like Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive). Use this as a toothpaste twice daily, but crucially, never rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash after you brush. You can also put some on your finger and keep rubbing it on the area.

Sensitive toothpaste works by forming a barrier on the outside of your tooth, blocking the nerve endings, and stopping the pain. It takes 2 weeks to form this barrier and will degrade if you stop using the toothpaste.

Secondly, while the sensitive toothpaste works its magic, be sensible with what you’re putting in your mouth. If cold things cause pain, then avoid cold drinks. If brushing hurts, then use a softer brush.

Mild to moderate toothache

What does it feel like?

Sometimes a mild toothache can feel just like sensitivity. Early tooth problems can feel like a short, sharp shock with a stimulus, then disappear.

If your toothache is more advanced, it may hurt for a prolonged period of time, ranging from minutes to hours. This can happen out of the blue and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where the pain is coming from.

Why does it happen?

It could be for any number of reasons, including decay, cavities, gum disease, trauma, fractures in the enamel or broken fillings.

How to stop mild to moderate toothache pain at home

paracetamol packet

Painkillers are your friend.

The best way to take the edge off is a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen. It goes like this:

Take 2 paracetamol and wait 2 hours…

Take 2 ibuprofen and wait 2 hours…

Take 2 paracetamol and wait 2 hours…

You get the idea.

Desensitising toothpaste can also take the edge off.

And just a quick note on taking painkillers for toothache

Painkillers should always be taken according to the instructions on the back of the pack. Do not go over the maximum daily dose. Doing this will not improve symptoms, can cause serious liver and stomach problems, and can sometimes be life-threatening.

And remember, if you take other medicines or have an existing medical condition, consult your doctor or dentist if you are unsure if you are able to self medicate.

Severe toothache

What does it feel like?

When you have a severe toothache then you’ll know about it.

It’s normally severe throbbing or pulsating localised pain to one tooth. This normally lasts for hours or throughout the night and comes and goes sporadically and without any stimuli.

It hurts. Really hurts.

Why does it happen?

Severe toothache usually follows a huge insult to your tooth.

This can be very large areas of untreated decay, severe trauma to a tooth or following a very large filling.

How to stop severe toothache pain at home

Take over-the-counter medication as mentioned above, alternating ibuprofen and paracetamol.

Cold ice packs on the tooth may give some relief, but do not use heat.

Pain relief may not help a severe toothache. If this is the case call an emergency dentist or the NHS 111 service.

Dental abscesses

photo of an abscess

What does it feel like?

A dental abscess usually results in swelling next to your tooth. It can feel like it’s in your jaw bone, at the bottom of the tooth root or next to the tooth.

Sometimes a white dot will appear on your gum where the abscess is draining out, but this is not always the case.

A dental abscess may or may not cause pain. If it does, it could be a combination of toothache and a build-up of pressure, causing your tooth to throb or pain when biting down.

Occasionally, dental abscesses can make you feel unwell. Typical symptoms include fever, chills, feeling sick or under the weather.

Why does it happen?

A dental abscess usually happens when your tooth has died and become infected, or if you have severe gum disease. Both are advanced problems.

How to ease dental abscesses at home

You need to treat the toothache and the swelling to relieve pain from a dental abscess.

If you can take ibuprofen and paracetamol, these should be alternated like as mentioned above.

To help relieve the pressure at home, have a look to see if there is a white spot on your gum. If there is then give it a gentle squeeze like you would a white head (gross, I know!). You may see some white pus oozing from the area and have a bad taste in your mouth. Disgusting, but it’ll feel a lot better.

Important note about dental abscesses

Dental abscesses can be life-threatening and warrant immediately attending your local accident and emergency department.

You should go straight to the hospital if you have a severe swelling which is either affecting your breathing or your vision. 

Should you call your dentist if you have a toothache at home?


Even for more trivial issues like sensitivity, you still need a definitive diagnosis of what is happening. Your Bournemouth dentist will then give you tailored advice on how to stop the toothache and create a plan to fix any underlying problems.

Do not bury your head in the sand.

That mild aching you’ve had for the last 2 days may have disappeared. But what’s to say it won’t come back with a vengeance in a month.


This article on how to stop toothache pain was written by Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg). He qualified as a dentist with honours. Working in the South of England, he is passionate about oral health education and is an Invisalign provider.

Disclaimer: This article (How to stop toothache pain) is intended for information purposes only. This information will not diagnose or provide treatment options for your individual problems and is for is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a dental professional if you have any dental problems. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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