Toothache: what it is, remedies, how to relieve it and what to do

Toothache: what it is, remedies, how to relieve it and what to do

About 25% of people, including children and adults, have toothache.

The causes are varied, ranging from trauma to the sensitivity caused by the alteration of dental mineralization.

But cavities and carelessness with good oral hygiene are the factors most pointed to problems in the teeth.


What is toothache?

Toothache is a nuisance produced by the excitation of nerve endings in the dental region. It can be the sign of some serious oral condition, as well as it can be the result of injuries and accidents.

Its causes range from hypersensitivity to serious problems such as gingivitis or periodontitis .

So, if you feel pain in your teeth, a good idea is to see a dentist to find the cause of the problem!

In ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition), toothache can be found by code K08 – Other disorders of teeth and their supporting structures.

Tooth anatomy

To understand a little better about tooth pain, it is important to understand which parts are the teeth.

All of these parts work together to maintain oral health , helping to preserve the ability to chew food.

Understand what they are:


It is the largest part of the tooth, reaching ⅔ (two thirds) of its size! It is the part that is inserted inside the maxillary bones and the mandible, giving stability to the structure.


The tooth enamel is the outermost part of the tooth, and is also the most mineralized and hardest part of the human body – even more so than the bones! -, but can suffer injuries such as corrosion by acids released by bacteria (cavities).


Here is the “intermediate” part of the tooth: it is between the enamel and the pulp. It is still highly mineralized and hard, but less than enamel.

This layer has the function of absorbing the external impacts caused by food, preventing wear.

However, it can be very sensitive, since it is directly connected to the pulp, where the nervous part of the tooth is.


Right in the middle of the tooth, there is a structure called pulp, which is what keeps the tooth alive.

It is full of blood vessels, which keep dental tissues well nourished and alive, and nerve endings, which warn you when something is wrong with your teeth (that is, they cause pain).

Types of Toothache

Incredible as it may seem, it is possible that there is more than one type of tooth pain. That’s because the causes of pain are so diverse that they affect the nerves in different ways. Understand:

Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods

This is one of the most common types of dental pain and does not usually last long. It is usually just a nuisance and does not cause more serious problems.

It is associated with a slight corrosion of the dental enamel or a small termination of the gum, which ends up exposing the nerve root of the tooth.

Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment

Dental treatments have a downside: they often end up causing the dreaded sensitivity to extreme temperatures. This is because of the swelling of the pulp inside the tooth.

Therefore, when eating things that are too cold or too hot, pain can arise. The bright side is that this symptom is temporary and should go away in a few weeks.

Acute pain when biting

This type of pain is not as common as sensitivity and usually indicates a structural problem with the tooth. It is caused by slight corrosion on the enamel, slightly “loose” teeth or even a crack in the structure.

The pulp, if damaged, may also be involved in the painful sensation.

Long-lasting pain (more than 30 seconds) after eating hot or cold food

Sensitivity to extreme temperatures is common in some cases, but it does not usually last long.

When it lasts more than 30 seconds, it can be a sign that the pulp has been irreversibly damaged by some corrosion or physical trauma. In that case, a root canal may be necessary.

Constant pain and pressure, swollen gums and tenderness

This type of pain is actually a set of symptoms that indicate an infection. Sometimes it can even be an abscess . This can happen due to untreated gingivitis or periodontitis .

Dull pain and pressure in the upper dental arch

Usually, this type of pain is also accompanied by a headache , and is the result of an involuntary grinding of the teeth, a condition called bruxism .

Wisdom pain

it is quite common that when wisdom teeth begin to be born, pain arises. In general, it occurs because the third molars, as wisdom is called, rupture the gums, which can cause inflammation and even infections.

What can cause toothache?

As mentioned earlier, the causes of toothache can be diverse and some can be more serious while others are only limited or temporary sensitivities. Learn the main ones:


The decay is a condition in which holes are formed in the surface of the teeth.

This is because bacteria that live naturally in the mouth release organic acids that corrode dental tissues, causing damage to the enamel.

One of the main bacteria responsible for caries is Streptococcus mutans , which can be easily combated with proper oral hygiene.

The problem is that many people do not brush their teeth or floss as often as necessary to avoid this type of problem. Over time, the bacteria accumulate and form a bacterial “plaque” that can only be removed at the dentist.

As these bacteria release acids, the corrosion of dental tissues increases and, in the end, ends up generating easily visible holes in the tooth enamel.

These holes go deeper and deeper and can go beyond the dentin, reaching the dental pulp, making nerve stimulation frequent.

Generally, people who have cavities usually experience severe pain in their teeth when eating, especially when eating sweet foods.

It is worth remembering that there are 3 types of caries: coronary, root and recurrent. The difference between them is where they appear and persistence. Understand:

  • Coronary: Appears on the chewing surface of the teeth, in a region called “crown”;
  • Root: It is the type of caries that appears at the root of the teeth, usually in cases where there is gingival retraction and the bacteria has easier access to this area, as there is no enamel for protection;
  • Recurrent: Persistent caries, which reappear even after crown restorations, are called recurrent. They usually appear in regions that tend to accumulate plaque, such as the crown (or chewing surface).

Enamel wear

The wear of the enamel is one of the main reasons for toothache, since the main protection against external agents is impaired.

In general, wear and tear leads to sensitivity pains, but it can cause other types of pain as well.

However, this wear does not happen out of nowhere. Some reasons for this are:

Inadequate food

A number of foods have abrasive properties that erode tooth enamel. A beautiful example is soft drinks, widely consumed by people.

In addition to already helping with wear and tear by itself, these drinks also contain a lot of sugars, which helps in the proliferation of bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Inadequate brushing

Although brushing is one of the best ways to prevent oral problems, the habit can become inappropriate when done with too much or with the wrong toothpastes.

Brushing your teeth many times a day or with too much force can damage your gums and enamel. In addition, the use of abrasive toothpastes, such as whitening creams, only makes the problem worse.

Tooth whitening

Tooth whitening processes can cause abrasion on the enamel, this includes procedures done at home or in offices.


Bruxism is characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth for prolonged periods.

It usually occurs unconsciously during sleep, but it can also occur in waking states such as when reading a book or watching television.

Its occurrence is linked to factors such as stress , anxiety , frustration, anger and even incorrect diet.

It can be a side effect of certain medications and is related to episodes of sleep apnea .

Another problem that causes bruxism is malocclusion, a condition in which there are facial changes that affect the contact mechanism between the upper and lower teeth.

Gum retraction

The gum is a great protector of the root of the teeth and, when retracted, can leave that part of the tooth exposed to bacteria. In this case, diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis are the major culprits.

These two conditions are part of the so-called “periodontal disease”, which does not attack the teeth directly, but their support mechanisms: the gums and the bones that support the teeth.

They are caused by the presence of acid-producing bacterial plaques that corrodes tooth enamel and, on top of that, irritates the gums, causing an inflammatory reaction, called gingivitis.

When these plaques are not removed for a long time, they form pockets of bacteria where the gums meet the teeth, starting periodontitis.

Gradually, gingival and bone retraction occurs, which exposes the root and leaves the teeth “loose”. Over time, they may even fall.

The pain, in these cases, is concentrated closer to the root of the tooth and also affects the gums, worsening when it is tightened.


Accidental cracks and breaks are not uncommon and can be the reason behind that pain that bothers you when you bite and chew something. Sometimes, the lesion is so tiny that the person may not even know that his or her tooth is damaged.

This type of damage ends up exposing the dentin or even the pulp, making the excitation of the nerve roots of the teeth quite frequent.


Pulpitis is the name given to inflammation of the pulp, the innermost and softest part of the tooth. This structure is full of nerve terminals and it is no wonder that the condition is very painful.

Pulpitis may appear after restorations and placement of prosthetic crowns, due to an inadequacy in the material used. It can also manifest itself when microorganisms reach it, as in the case of deep caries.

Wisdom tooth birth

There is no denying it: the birth of the wisdom tooth is an extremely painful passage ritual.

This is because he needs to “tear” the gums to be able to open his space in the dental arch, which, in fact, greatly stimulates the local nerve endings.

And the problem does not stop there, since the pain is so severe that it radiates to the other teeth. What looks like a pain in the first molars is actually a pain in the gums due to the birth of the last molar!

Orthodontic appliances

Anyone who has had to use knows that orthodontic appliances can cause a lot of pain!

That’s because their task is to realign their teeth, which means pushing a little there, a little there … And it all hurts, obviously.

Other causes

There are, still, many other causes that can be responsible for the pain felt in the teeth. Did you know that, during a heart attack , it is possible for pain to radiate to the lower dental arch?

However, there is no need to worry: hardly a toothache is a sign of a heart attack .


The sinusitis is a disease that causes a lot of pain in various parts of the face due to inflammation caused by the accumulation of mucus in the sinuses.

These spaces are found on the forehead, behind the nose and eyes, below the eyes and in the jaw. In some cases, the pain of this inflammation is so intense that it ends up reflecting on the teeth, especially when the accumulation of mucus is in the jaw.


Do you know those bumps that appear on the neck when someone is sick? They are called languages ​​and can be a cause of toothache.

Commonly, marmosets are associated with infections, but they appear as an immune response to anything the body thinks is suspicious, whether infectious or not.

Sometimes, a simple inflammation in the throat is enough for the appearance of tongues that, in turn, also hurt. This pain radiates to the jaw, being mistaken for a toothache.

Does canal cause toothache?

The canal is a treatment used when the pulp of the tooth is inflamed or compromised. Therefore, it is important to know that the treatment aims exactly to relieve continuous pain.

Of course, the procedure can create a temporary discomfort, as there is manipulation of the gums, which can end up hurting the tissue.

Even to relieve pain, anesthesia is used and some medications can be prescribed to use after consultations.

But in a short time the tooth will stop hurting.

Groups of risk

Anyone can have toothache at any time, but children are one of the biggest risk groups because of the amount of sugars they eat daily.

In addition, at this stage of life, it is common that they are not yet familiar with the routine of oral care.

People without access to basic sanitation are also a large risk group, as this obstacle makes it difficult to clean teeth properly.

Toothache in pregnancy

Toothache is common to feel during pregnancy and many mothers are frightened, wondering if it can harm their child.

These pains are the result of an increase in progesterone , a hormone in abundance during pregnancy.

Although it is indispensable for pregnancy to occur well, one problem is that it increases the woman’s sensitivity, making her feel pain more easily.

It is also common for episodes of gingivitis during pregnancy, which contributes to the pain being felt.

Thus, many women wonder if there is any problem with having dental treatment during pregnancy, as in the past it was believed that it was not safe to go to the dentist during pregnancy.

Today, however, it has been proven that treating dental problems only benefits both mother and baby.

Depending on the case, the mother may even extract a tooth, without having to wait for the baby to be born, as there are several local anesthetics that do not cause any problem to the fetus.

So, if you are pregnant and have pain in your teeth, be sure to visit the dentist!

Pain in baby teeth

Unfortunately, the problems that affect the teeth of adults are also capable of affecting the teeth of children. They are especially susceptible to caries due to the amount of sugars they eat daily.

In children, caries can also reach the pulp of the tooth and cause massive damage.

Therefore, it is very important that fathers and mothers be attentive and take the child to the dentist as soon as they show signs of toothache.

Otherwise, the baby tooth infection can harm even the permanent teeth that are to come!

Symptoms and signs: how do I know if I have a toothache?

Toothache is, in itself, a symptom. However, there are several others that can appear together and give a better idea of ​​what is happening. Are they:

  • Sensitivity when drinking or eating hot or cold food – may be related to wear and tear of the enamel;
  • Pain when biting and chewing food – sign that the enamel is worn, cracked tooth or even with deep caries;
  • Pulsating and constant pain in the tooth – it can be a sign of pulpitis;
  • Swollen and painful gums – a sign of gingivitis;
  • Bad breath – associated with symptoms of gingivitis, may indicate periodontitis.

Toothache: what to do?

When experiencing toothache, the first thing to do is contact a dentist, especially if you have had a dental treatment recently.

While you are unable to schedule an appointment, there are some medications that can be taken to relieve pain, such as anti-inflammatories or pain relievers.

However, they need to be taken under medical or pharmaceutical supervision.

How is the diagnosis of toothache made?

Only the dentist will be able to indicate what, in fact, is happening and what is the origin of the toothache. With an investigation of the dental arch, history and clinical report, in addition to other complementary exams it will be possible to determine the problem.

Procedures may include:

Perform a physical exam

In this examination, the patient sits in the reclining chair and the dentist asks him to open his mouth. He may or may not use a tool to keep the patient’s mouth wide open, as well as a bib to avoid wetting clothes.

Using some special equipment, such as small mirrors and lights, signs of damage to teeth, cavities or gingivitis are sought.

Often, he can determine the cause of the problem with just that observation. However, that alone may not be enough.

Request an image exam

Imaging exams are quite useful in dentistry too! However, do not worry, it is not very complicated: it is more likely that the dentist will ask for a panoramic radiograph of the maxilla and mandible.

To perform this examination, the patient must support the head and forehead on some structures while a radiologist takes the images. You don’t have to open your mouth.

It is recommended that any jewelry be removed, from oral piercings to earrings, to prevent the metal from interfering with the visualization of the radiograph.

With this exam, it is possible to see if there is any problem in the root of the tooth, the depth of some cavities, if there is any inflammation in the pulp, etc.

Toothache has a cure?

In most cases, toothache can be cured, yes. If it is the case of cavities, for example, just do the restoration treatment and everything will be fine!

However, at times, the problem demands more radical treatments, such as the total removal of a tooth. In such cases, the pain may stop, but the tooth will no longer be there either.

Treatment: how to relieve toothache?

The treatment for toothache varies according to its cause. People who suffer from cavities will have no benefit if they receive a treatment for bruxism, for example.

Therefore, it is recommended to always look for a dentist so that the most appropriate treatment for each case is indicated.

However, here are some alternatives that the dentist may suggest:

Obturation treatment

When there are more superficial cavities, the dentist can do a filling treatment, which consists of using a drill to drill, opening the cavity hole further, and getting rid of all contaminated and damaged tissue.

It is the dreaded “dentist’s drill”!

Then, this “hole” is cleaned and the dentist puts a “mass” to fill the space and restore the tooth enamel, restoring the integrity of the tooth.

It is not a very long treatment and does not require anesthesia.

Canal treatment

In the case of deeper caries, the treatment is a little more complicated. Most of the time, it is necessary to use anesthesia, as the drill reaches the pulp.

In the canal, the dentist “opens” the tooth in order to remove the infected dental pulp.

Afterwards, the site is cleaned, disinfected and then filled with a tooth protection material.

It is worth remembering that root canal treatment is much more complex and may require more sessions to reach its end. It all depends on the extent of cavities and the involvement of the roots.

Treatments for gingivitis and periodontitis

If the pain is caused by these periodontal diseases, treatment is much more complicated. It may involve surgical solutions or not, depending on the case.

It is necessary to clean and scrape the root of the tooth to remove and prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the region.

Among the surgical treatments, there is the reduction of the periodontal pocket, which consists of exposing the roots to make a deep cleaning of the affected area. Then, a gum suture is performed in place.

If there is retraction of the bones in the gum region, it is possible that a bone graft is performed to fill the area and prevent tooth loss.

These are just some of the procedures that can be done to solve the problem in case of periodontal disease, but there are many others.


Often confused with filling, the restoration seeks to correct the tooth in cases of breaks and cracks. In these cases, a larger part of the tooth is replaced with synthetic materials, restoring its original shape.

Dental extraction

Ultimately, when the problem is very profound, it is possible that the dentist will suggest a tooth extraction. The tooth is surgically extracted and may or may not be replaced with a prosthesis.

In the case of the wisdom teeth birth, this treatment is very common because, often, these last molars only cause pain and do not bring any advantage.

In addition, cleaning these teeth is so difficult that they often experience periodontal problems.

As they are not teeth that affect the smile, they are not usually replaced by prostheses.

Anti-inflammatory remedies

As long as it is not possible to do any of these procedures, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to relieve pain.

Medicines: what to take for toothache?

The drugs most commonly indicated to relieve inflamed toothache are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but they should only be used after a dentist’s evaluation.

Painkillers can also be used.

Medicines commonly used to relieve toothache, indicated in emergency dental protocols include:

  • Amoxicillin + Potassium Clavulanate ;
  • Amoxicillin 500mg;
  • Cephalexin 500mg;
  • Paracetamol 500mg;
  • Ibuprofen 600mg;
  • Sodium Dipyrone – oral solution;
  • Dexamethasone – solution for injection;
  • Tramadol (hydrochloride) – solution for injection;
  • Salicylic acid ;
  • Nimesulida.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Medicine for inflamed teeth: what is good to deflate?

The inflamed tooth is, in general, the one affected by a deep caries that reached the pulp, causing pain. The most appropriate treatment will depend on the evaluation of professionals, as it is necessary to assess the depth of caries and the compromise of the dental structure.

Some anti-inflammatories, antibiotics or pain relievers may be prescribed for the most immediate relief of pain, but it is necessary to treat the cause of the pain, which is usually caries.

Without going to the dentist, it is important to avoid using pharmacy remedies, because if there is severe inflammation, the medication used improperly can aggravate the problem.

Therefore, rinsing with warm water and salt or placing a cold bag on the spot can be effective measures to relieve the discomfort.

Can you take medicine for toothache after having a canal?

In general, yes. It is quite common that during root canal treatment, patients experience moderate pain at the site. Therefore, responsible dentists usually recommend the use of analgesics for pain relief, such as paracetamol.

Home remedies: what is good to relieve toothache?

Toothache can easily be relieved with some home remedies. However, there is no evidence that these remedies work or that they are safe, so be careful!

Do not try any of the prescriptions below without talking to your dentist first, as the results can be unpleasant without the necessary guidance.

It is important to remember that these treatments are also not effective for the total eradication of the problem, that is, they do not cure toothache!

However, they can be used to alleviate the problem until it’s time to get the treatment right.

Warm water with salt

A home remedy commonly indicated in cases of gingivitis or periodontitis is the mouthwash with warm water and salt.

That’s because salt has antimicrobial properties and can help relieve infection.

To do this, just dilute 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 glass of warm water, mix well and make a mouthwash for 30 seconds, being careful not to swallow the water. Spit out all the water and repeat the mouthwash every 1 hour.

Clove oil from India

The oil produced from cloves has analgesic and antimicrobial properties, which can help in relieving infections and pain.

Simply place, with or without the help of a cotton swab, 2 drops of the oil directly on the sore tooth.

This procedure can be done up to 3 times a day.

Macela tea and propolis

While propolis has an antimicrobial action, macela tea has calming and anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in aching teeth.

A tip is to make a mouthwash for 30 seconds with the mixture, 2 times a day. The preparation of the mixture is done as follows:

  1. Boil 1 tablespoon of dried macela flowers in a pan with 1 liter of water;
  2. Separate a cup of this tea and save the rest for other mouthwashes;
  3. Add 5 drops of propolis to the cup of tea and you’re ready for the mouthwash!


The good old ice on the bruise works really well here too! The cold temperature constricts local blood vessels, relieving inflammation, and can even slow down the infectious process, depending on the bacteria.

Always remember to cover an ice sheet with a cloth so as not to burn your skin! It is also important to pay attention to time: 15 to 20 minutes is more than enough, as prolonged contact with cold temperatures can have unpleasant consequences.

The process can be repeated every 3 hours.

Lemongrass tea

With soothing properties, mouthwash with lemon balm tea can help in cases of inflamed gums. Just rinse the tea while it is still hot.


In most cases, the prognosis of toothache is favorable. Some of the causes are curable, while others can only be treated and kept under control.

Ultimately, tooth extraction may be necessary, but the placement of a prosthesis restores aesthetics and dental function.

Complications: what can happen with toothache?

Toothache itself does not cause any complications. However, the conditions that cause it can have several consequences.

An untreated cavity can even lead to heart problems, such as infectious endocarditis , an infection of the inner wall of the heart (endocardium) or of the valves.

Periodontitis can also lead to this infection in the heart, in addition to the loss of teeth due to gingival and bone retraction.

Hypersensitivity cases, on the other hand, do not have very serious consequences if they are not treated.

However, just the discomfort every day should be enough to take the patient to the office to resolve the situation.

How to prevent toothache?

The easiest way to prevent any oral problem is to have good hygiene. However, this is not always enough – there are some people who suffer from these diseases even if they take care of their teeth assiduously.

In such cases, it is only possible to try to alleviate the situation and prevent relapses with the tips below:

To brush your teeth

Brush the surface of the teeth towards the cheek, both upper and lower, in circular movements.

On the chewing surface, move back and forth, then make broom-like movements on the inner surface – sweeping the teeth from the inside out.

Always start with the upper dental arch, as food scraps may fall into the lower arch. If brushing is started from the bottom, food scraps can get stuck there.

Don’t forget to brush your tongue. It is recommended to use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the enamel.

It is important to brush your teeth at least 3 times a day, always after meals.

Floss everyday

A good tip to prevent periodontitis is to floss every day, since many bacteria that attack the gums accumulate between the teeth, just where the brush cannot reach.

To floss, just take about 30 centimeters of floss and wrap it around your index fingers.

Fit the wire between the teeth and make back and forth movements. Do this with all your teeth.

Prefer to start with the upper dental arch for the same reason as brushing.

Speaking of brushing, there is no right order for cleaning. There are those who prefer to use dental floss before brushing, they have to prefer later, but there is no consensus among dentists as to which is the best order.

Avoid foods that favor the development of cavities

There are a number of foods that we eat every day that can help the development of cavities.

Anyone who thinks that it is only candies and sweets that do this is wrong: even acidic juices and fruits or foods rich in carbohydrates can be transformed into the corrosive acid responsible for caries.

Alcoholic beverages, coffee and teas are rich in pigments and dyes that can stain your teeth.

Consume foods that are good for your teeth

Just as there are foods that are enemies of teeth, there are others that are good friends.

This is the case of apples and carrots, two foods rich in fiber that require a lot of chewing, which stimulates the production of saliva and promotes natural teeth cleaning.

Cheese is a food rich in calcium and proteins , which help to strengthen tooth enamel, in addition to increasing the pH of the mouth, which reduces the risk of developing cavities.

Yogurt, on the other hand, is rich in good bacteria for the gums and, like cheese, it is rich in calcium and protein .

Lastly, celery is a food that helps to scrape off food particles and bacteria that remain on your teeth, as well as being a source of beneficial vitamins for your body in general, such as A and C.

Use personal protective equipment whenever necessary

When riding a bicycle, skateboard or performing any sport that allows great impacts, it is important to use protective equipment.

In the case of teeth, mouthguards can help ensure the physical integrity of the teeth, preventing trauma and breakage.

Visit the dentist regularly

Finally, one of the best ways to prevent oral problems is to visit the dentist every 6 months.

It takes about 6 months for a cavity to form a deep hole, and with that frequency of visits, you can protect yourself from this problem before it even becomes something bigger!

I have severe pain at the root of the tooth: what to do?

The recommendation, in fact, applies to any location or intensity of pain: a professional assessment is required.

The ideal is to maintain regular appointments and good hygiene habits. Thus, it is possible to reduce the risks of compromising dental health.

It is not always possible to go to the dentist immediately, right after feeling the pain. But it is important to use the consultation as soon as possible.

In addition, do not use any medication without a prescription, as soon as it can have side effects and cover up the signs, making it difficult or delaying a correct diagnosis.

Can wisdom wisdom cause headaches?

Yes. Often, headaches can originate from dental changes. In this case, they are called orofacial pain.

Wisdom is located deep in the dental arch and it is not always easy to distinguish the sensitivity and discomfort it causes – whether it is being born or being inflamed – from headaches.

Therefore, the wisdom can be the real source of the headache.

We don’t usually pay much attention to our teeth, but when they start to hurt, it seems like the whole day is spoiled.

So take good care of yours and visit dentists regularly!

Have you ever needed to extract a tooth or have a root canal? Tell us how it was in the comments!