How to Relieve a Toothache

Toothache Myths

Don't fall for these myths -- you could end up causing more damage by believing in them:

  • Put an aspirin on the tooth. If you want to use aspirin to help relieve the pain of a toothache, swallow it with a glass of water. Do not place it on the tooth or surrounding gum. An aspirin tablet does not work as a topical remedy; it has to be ingested. What's worse, applying an aspirin topically can cause a severe burn on your gum or cheek that can take four to five days to heal.
  • A toothache means you'll lose the tooth. Not so anymore. Root-canal therapy can save an abscessed tooth or one with damaged pulp. Root-canal therapy involves making a small opening in the tooth, removing the pulp in the root canal (that's where the name of the procedure comes from), filling the canal with a material called gutta percha, and then, usually, crowning the tooth. Sometimes, tiny metal posts are placed in the canal to help strengthen the tooth.
  • If the pain disappears, the problem's gone. Pain is a warning that something has gone wrong in your body, so don't ignore it. And the problem may be more serious than a dental woe; pain in the lower jaw, for instance, can be a symptom of heart trouble.

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