ToothacheOverview

See a dentist if you have toothache that lasts more than 2 days. There are things you can do to ease it while you wait for an appointment.

See a dentist if you have toothache:

  • that last more than 2 days
  • that doesn't go away when you take painkillers
  • with a high temperature, pain when you bite, red gums, or a bad taste in your mouth
  • and your cheek or jaw are swollen

Don't go to your GP as they won't be able to give you dental treatment.

Go to A&E if you have toothache and:

  • the area around your eye or your neck is swollen
  • swelling in your mouth or neck is making it difficult for you to breathe, swallow or speak

How to see a dentist in an emergency or out of hours:

  • call your dentist – if they're closed, their answerphone may tell you what to do

If you don't have a dentist or can't get an emergency appointment:

  • call 111 – they can advise you what to do
  • find a dentist near you – ask if you can have an emergency appointment

You may have to pay for your appointment. Read more about NHS dental charges.

How to ease toothache while waiting for an appointment

Do

  • take painkillers, like ibuprofen or paracetamol (children under 16 shouldn't take aspirin) – a pharmacist can advise you
  • try rinsing your mouth with salt water (children shouldn't try this)
  • use a pain-relieving gel for your mouth – this can be bought from pharmacies or supermarkets
  • eat soft foods, like yoghurt or scrambled eggs, and try to avoid chewing with the sore tooth

Don't

  • eat foods that are sweet, very hot or very cold
  • smoke – it can make some dental problems worse

Causes of toothache

Toothache can be caused by:

  • tooth decay
  • a dental abscess
  • a cracked or damaged tooth
  • a loose or broken filling
  • an infection – this often happens when a tooth (such as a wisdom tooth) has broken the skin, but doesn't have enough room to fully come through
  • problems with your braces

How to prevent toothache

The best way to prevent toothache is to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

To do this:

  • have regular dental check-ups
  • cut down on sugary foods and drinks – only have them as an occasional treat at mealtimes
  • brush your teeth twice a day for about 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
  • clean between your teeth using floss or an interdental brush every day to remove food, debris and plaque

Read more information about:

Page last reviewed: 16/04/2018
Next review due: 16/04/2021