When Should I be Concerned About a Toothache?

Jun 01, 2016

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As a dentist, it’s easy to preach about maintaining great oral hygiene. Every dentist does it. I have multiple conversations daily with my patients about brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and maintaining a diet that is ideal of your oral health...

As a dentist, it’s easy to preach about maintaining great oral hygiene. Every dentist does it. I have multiple conversations daily with my patients about brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and maintaining a diet that is ideal of your oral health and overall health. As a 30 something year old woman who is a wife, business owner and mother, I can understand how “life” gets in the way. When your less than ideal oral hygiene takes a turn for the worse and you begin experiencing discomfort, its important to recognize the do’s and don’ts about your toothache and take action.


1. When should you be concerned about a toothache?

  • If the toothache has lasted more than 1-2 days.
  • Experiencing fever or chills.
  • Having a hard time biting down, chewing or swallowing.
  • Experiencing an earache or pain when you open your mouth.

2. Symptoms and causes of a toothache

Aside from the typical discomfort and pain associated with a toothache, other symptoms and causes can include

  • Jaw pain
  • Bleeding gums
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing
  • Facial rash
  • Swelling in the gums, cheek, or around the tooth

There can be so many direct and indirect reasons for a toothache. Cavity or tooth decay, gum disease, a cracked tooth, recent trauma, infection, sinus issues are just some of the causes. Many of my patients, while very nice, smart and educated have a tendency to self-diagnose. While access to WebMD and Google is great, seeking out the help of your dentist is likely the best choice.


Tooth Decay and Cavity

Cavities or tooth decay, if left untreated will likely turn into a root canal. In most cases, getting a cavity filled by your dentist can nip the problem in the butt in one visit. Tooth colored fillings, otherwise known as composite fillings can also save you from a root canal and crown, which is significantly more invasive, not to mention a heck of a lot more expensive.



If you’re an active person who plays sports or just clumsy like me, you’ve likely hit your face, bumped into something or someone at one point in your life. Trauma to your mouth or teeth can certainly cause pain. Having an x-ray taken of the area is likely the best option.


Bleeding Gums/Gum Disease

At the risk of sounding like a typical dentist, slacking on your oral hygiene (i.e. brushing twice a day and flossing) will certain come back to haunt you. Inflamed gums, bleeding gums, and pain or sensitivity around your tooth can be a sign of gingivitis. Being strict with your oral hygiene and visiting your dentist every 6 months can go a long way. Most dental insurances cover preventative visits twice a year at no cost to the patient. Those visits can certainly save you a lot of pain in your mouth and wallet.


Wisdom Teeth

If you suspect that you might have a problem with a wisdom tooth, it would likely be wise of you to make an appointment with your dentist. There are several treatment options available including an extraction, which is very common and can be done under general anesthesia or sedation.


Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth can occur from bad oral hygiene, trauma, and gum disease. Sometimes it can be fixed with a simple filling. Other times when the crack is really bad, or below the gum line, your dentist might suggest a root canal. Severity can only be determined at an office once your dentist takes an x-ray of the tooth. It can also be very painful so seeing a professional immediately is likely your best option.


Sinus or Allergy Issue

A toothache from your Sinus? Can that really be a thing? YEP! Oddly enough, when you’re sick or have an infection, your mucus lining can swell. The blockage in your nasal passage can clog your sinus. With this blockage, bacteria can get trapped which can lead to pain in your upper molars. Trust me, its not pretty!


3.What to do When You Have a Toothache?

  • Call your dentist. It’s always best to have a professional take a look.
  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Take a painkiller
  • Apply a numbing gel
  • Keep the area clean
  • Rinse with warm salt water 

We’ve all experienced toothaches or know someone who has. As a doctor, I want all of my patients to be prepared in case they experience any discomfort at home, in the middle of the night, or while traveling. While regular check ups and cleanings at iSmile Dental can certainly prevent many issues from arising, our Williamsburg, Brooklyn office at 144 North 8th street as well as our Park Slope, Brooklyn location at 857 Union Street are always prepared and ready for any dental emergency. Myself and the other doctors at iSmile Dental are always available for any of our New York City patients. You can always call our office in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at (718) 384-8880 or our Park Slope office in Brooklyn at (929) 337-8628. You can also book directly through our website at www.iSmile-DDS.com.


iSmile Dental
Park Slope
Phone: 718-844-5341
Address: 857 Union St, Brooklyn, NY  11215

Phone: 718-709-7282
Address: 10 North 5th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249