Font Size

Toothache and Gum Problems (cont.)

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.
Dental Care: Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment


To reduce pain and swelling of a toothache, use an ice pack on the outside of your cheek; do not use heat. Avoid very hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks if they increase your pain.

Tooth sensitivity

To reduce sensitivity to heat, cold, or brushing, consider using a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Brush with it regularly or rub a small amount of the paste on the sensitive area with your finger a 2 to 3 times a day. Floss gently between your teeth.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.

Gum problems

If your gums are mildly swollen and red, use a tartar-control toothpaste that contains fluoride and an antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine, or a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Make sure you brush after meals and snacks and floss every day. If you cannot brush after eating, chew sugar-free gum, use a tooth pick, or rinse your mouth with warm salt water. You can make your own salt water by mixing 1 tsp (5 g) of salt in a medium-sized glass [8 fl oz (240 mL)] of warm water.

Tobacco can cause many gum problems, decreases your ability to fight infection of your gums, and delays healing. Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

Do not use illegal drugs, such as methamphetamines, which cause tooth and gum problems.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Signs of infection develop.
  • Gum or tooth problems last for more than 2 weeks.
  • Symptoms persist or become more severe or frequent.
Next Page:

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary