Toothache 101: What to Know and What to Do

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Toothache 101

A toothache is a common experience, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. This article will cover what you need to know about toothaches, including identifying its cause and what to do when one strikes.

Therefore, it is most important to know what to do in the event of a toothache. If you are uncertain, it is essential that a dentist helps you to identify the origin of the ache and help manage the pain accordingly.

Identifying a Toothache:

Most tooth problems can simply be avoided if we pay attention to certain signs leading up to the agony of a full-blown toothache. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that a toothache may not always originate from a tooth. For example, sinuses, jaw joint, or chewing muscles may cause some tooth problems.

To identify the cause of your toothache, note the following:

  • Rate the pain from a scale of 0-10. 0 is nothing, and 10 is the worst pain you have ever felt.
  • Do other symptoms like fever or swelling also accompany the pain?
  • Do you have difficulty swallowing?
  • Can the pain be described as a sharp pain like an “electric shock” or a dull pressure?
  • Does the pain spread across a larger area on the face or jaw, or can you pinpoint exactly the location of the pain?
  • How is the pain triggered? Is it only when you bite on the tooth? Is it when you drink fluids at room temperature, cold or hot? Is it spontaneous?
  • How long does the pain last when it is triggered? Is it seconds, minutes or hours?

Urgency Level: 

A toothache is considered an emergency if it is accompanied by significant bleeding, severe pain, swelling, or a broken tooth. In non-trauma scenarios, an emergency toothache is when the pain is so intense that you cannot function or feel unwell.

An urgent toothache includes:

  • A cracked tooth without pain
  • A large cavity without pain
  • Swollen gums with bleeding
  • A broken filling

What to Do:

If you have a toothache, it is important to call your dentist for a consultation. If you feel unwell, have swelling, or have difficulty swallowing, inform your dentist when you call. Take an anti-inflammatory or painkiller to manage the pain, and apply a cold pack if there is swelling. If it is not possible to see a dentist, consult your doctor.

A toothache can be a sign of various underlying problems. By taking note of the characteristics of your toothache and seeking medical attention, you can effectively manage your tooth pain and prevent further complications.

Please contact the clinic on 6733 9882 or email us at

Dr Bernard Siew (BDS, Adelaide) is a general dentist with special interest in restorative and cosmetic dentistry. His focus is in restorative solutions to worn and broken teeth due to lifestyle or environmental problems. He is passionate about minimally invasive dentistry and advocates patient education and participation in their oral health.

If you would like to make an appointment to see Dr. Bernard Siew, please call 
6733 9882