What not to do when you have a toothache

A toothache is your body’s way of telling you something has gone wrong in your mouth. There is no convenient time or place to get a toothache, but we always strive to see our toothache patients as soon as possible. But chances are you won’t be at our office when a toothache strikes, so here are a few things NOT to do between when you notice the discomfort and when you see the dentist.

Ignore the Toothache & Hope It Gets Better

Spoiler alert: it won’t just get better on its own. It’s possible that if you use home toothache remedies you can reduce your discomfort, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve fixed the underlying problem that caused the toothache in the first place. If there is a singular truth to oral health it is this: nothing ever gets better by putting off seeing the dentist.

Take Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers the Wrong Way

Yes, there is a right and wrong way to take painkillers when you have a toothache! The best option is to take ibuprofen (Advil) consistently and don’t stop when the pain starts getting better. Taking the indicated dose regularly until you see the dentist will prevent swelling from coming back and causing more discomfort. We should note that not everyone can take ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) due to health concerns. Chances are you know if you can’t take NSAIDs, but please ask your primary care doctor if you aren’t sure.

Downplay Signs of a More Serious Situation

There are a few symptoms that may accompany a toothache that are serious and may require a visit to urgent care or the ER. These include a fever, severe swelling, eyes swelling shut, trouble breathing or swallowing. All of these are signs of a serious infection or injury that could be life-threatening in extreme and rare situations. Please don’t take a chance: if you have these symptoms, go to the hospital first and call us after.

Wait to Call the Dentist

Even if it’s a Sunday night or a national holiday, don’t hesitate to call us. If you don’t get someone on the phone right away, you can leave a message about what’s going on and your phone number, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. The sooner we know about your situation, the sooner we can help!

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