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Toothache

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.

Information:

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 do not have a dentist or cannot 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.

Do

  • take painkillers, like ibuprofen or paracetamol (children under 16 should not take aspirin) – a pharmacist can advise you

  • try rinsing your mouth with salt water (children should not 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

  • do not eat foods that are sweet, very hot or very cold

  • do not smoke – it can make some dental problems worse

How to rinse with salt water
  1. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water – warm water helps salt dissolve.
  2. Rinse your mouth with the solution, then spit it out – do not swallow it.
  3. Repeat as often as you like.

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 does not have enough room to fully come through
  • problems with your braces

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