Your Guide To Toothache Treatment Options

The toothache treatment that will be necessary to relieve your pain and, importantly, prevent it from recurring, will depend on the cause of the pain.  The following gives some information on what treatment you may require from your dentist, based on the common causes of dental pain.

The advice here is brief and general . For much more information on the individual procedures, click on the links in the relevant paragraphs.


Toothache Treatment With Your Dentist

Dentist with drill to treat toothacheDental decay

Cavity treatment will typically involve removal of the decay followed by the placement of a dental filling.

"an image of dental drilling of an old filling"

Drilling out decay under an old filling

If the decay goes close to the nerve, a lining material may be placed under the filling to help settle the nerve. Sometimes the dentist may put in a temporary filling (with a chemical not unlike clove oil) initially, to help settle the nerve before the permanent filling is placed a few weeks later. If the decay is deep and has damaged the nerve…


Nerve damage

If the nerve is permanently damaged through deep decay or trauma to the tooth, the tooth will require either root canal treatment or extraction. Root canal treatment is a procedure whereby the inside of the tooth (where the nerve lies) is cleaned out and filled to prevent further nerve problems or infections. 



If a tooth infection is from nerve damage, then again the tooth will need a root canal or extraction. You may need other work such as drainage of the infection and antibiotics initially.  If the abscess is a result of gum disease, then deep gum treatment or tooth extraction will be needed.


Image of a woman suffering with toothache

Broken/loose filling

The problem of a broken, loose or otherwise faulty filling will generally be treated in the same way as dental decay above.


Dental sensitivity

There are many causes of sensitivity and the treatment of sensitivity may depend on the cause. Materials to relieve sensitive teeth includes special toothpastes, varnishes and gels applied by the dentist and dental fillings. Sometimes the cause is obvious whereas others suffer from sensitive teeth with no obvious causative factors. Seek advice from your own dentist.


Gum recession

Gingival recession (wearing away of the gums) can lead to tooth sensitivity.  It can be treated as for any sensitive teeth, i.e. with sensitive toothpastes and de-sensitizing agents.

In some cases a procedure called a gingival graft may be carried out.  This involves minor surgery to replace the lost gum tissue and cover the exposed roots again.



"Dental erosion"

Tooth-wear can lead to toothache

This can be due to acid erosion, grinding, harsh tooth-brushing techniques or any combination of these three.  Dental sensitivity can arise when the teeth are damaged from wear.  The dental work needed will depend on the exact cause and extent of the damage.


Clenching and grinding.

Teeth clenching and grinding can cause pain and sensitivity, as well as tooth cracks.  It can also cause jaw pain (“TMJ“).  A mouth-guard may be needed to be worn at night, if this is when you are grinding.


Cracked teeth

Again, teeth can crack for a variety of reasons. Dental treatment depends on the location and extent of the crack and may include a filling, root canal, crown or extraction.


Wisdom teeth

A wisdom tooth that become impacted (‘stuck’) due to a lack of space at the back of the mouth can cause a lot of problems. If the problems are severe and/or recurring, extraction of the wisdom teeth will be the only option.  There are some things you can do for pain relief (like applying orajel or benzocaine) when the problem strikes.


Pain after dental procedures

Many dental treatments can result in short-term post-operative pain. Get to your dentist if problems persist. Sensitivity after fillings, ache after root canal and dry socket after tooth extraction (more here) may need professional care.


Male dentist

Don’t delay getting to a dentist for advice if you have toothache

As you have seen, there are many causes of dental pain. The appropriate toothache treatment will thus vary based on what is causing the problem. Always seek advice from your dentist sooner rather than later. Any delay can affect the outcome (and costs!) of the dental care you may need.

Return to the causes of oral pain or toothache main page.



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