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Written on:2021-05-04
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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.

    See a dentist if you have toothache:

    • that lasts more than 2 days

    • that does not 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 is swollen

    Do not go to your GP as they will not 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

    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.


    • 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


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

    • do not 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 does not 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

    More information



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