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How do I Choose the Best Toothache Medicine?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Choosing the best toothache medicine depends on the severity and cause of the toothache. If pain is caused by a cavity, pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and are often recommended by dentists as an effective toothache medicine. The most effective toothache medicine in cases of infection are antibiotics for a toothache. Local anesthetic gels are another toothache medicine that can temporarily relieve symptoms.

The pain from a cavity can cause throbbing, sensitivity and even cause surrounding gum tissues to swell. Ibuprofen, known as an anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, can reduce pain as well as inflammation from swollen tissues.

Many times a toothache is related to an infection. If the infection is not eradicated, pain usually will persist. Sometimes an infected tooth causes severe pain, and other times pain can be mild. In addition, purulent drainage or pus can drain from the tooth, and if not treated with antibiotics, can spread to other areas such as the sinus cavity or throat. Also, if the infection persists, a systemic infection can occur, causing fever and general malaise.

Generally, if a toothache is caused by an infect, the patient will begin to notice relief from pain after a couple days of using antibiotics. It is important, however, for patients to take the entire course of antibiotics. If the individual does not finish his antibiotic treatment, the infection might re-emerge. Sometimes antibiotics for a toothache cause stomach upset, and when this occurs, the patient should consult his dentist who can recommend an alternative treatment.

Analgesic gels are safe and easy-to-use forms of toothache medicine. They are also known as teething gels. When babies begin the teething process, the tooth gel can be rubbed onto the gums, providing temporary relieve from irritation. The effect of these numbing or anesthetic gels is short-lived, but they can offer limited pain relief.

Acetaminophen is another common toothache medicine that can offer toothache relief. Since this medication does not have anti-inflammatory properties, it typically does not help reduce swelling that can accompany a toothache. It is effective for discomfort, however, and is often the toothache medicine of choice in those people who cannot tolerate NSAIDS because of stomach side effects. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications might not be the right choice for those taking blood thinners either.

If pain is mild, and no infection is present, toothache medicine might not be warranted. In these circumstances, natural remedies for a toothache might help relieve pain. Rinsing the mouth with salt and water can help to alleviate pain, and promote healing or irritated tissues. Also, if tooth pain is related to tooth sensitivity, brushing with a toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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