Is Paracetamol Good for Toothache?
Toothache can be a horribly annoying pain, ranging from a mild ache, to a throbbing or stabbing pain that can significantly impact your ability to get on with your normal daily activities. So naturally, we turn to painkillers to help us cope with the pain until we can see our dentist for a check-up.
But which painkiller is best for toothache? Is paracetamol good enough? To know the answer, it’s useful to understand what’s causing your toothache so you can target the pain directly.
What Causes Toothache?
Toothache can be caused by a problem in your tooth, dental pulp or gum, so there are several reasons that can cause pain in your mouth as well as inflammation, sensitivity and pus.
Toothache can have many causes, including:
- A broken or cracked tooth
- An infection
- A broken filling
- A dental abscess
- An issue with dental braces
- An impacted tooth
If you have suffered an injury to your face or bitten down on something hard like an olive stone or a toffee, you may have pain in your teeth because you’ve cracked or broken a tooth, causing sensitivity. But if you haven’t had an issue and the toothache has come on seemingly suddenly, it’s possible that you have an infection of the dental pulp (the sensitive tissue below the tooth in the gum) known as an abscess, which can be caused by tooth decay.
In some cases, if the pain is in the back of your mouth, you may be having wisdom teeth coming through. Wisdom teeth usually come out in people’s late teens or early twenties but they can start to grow at any time, and some people don’t have them at all. If there’s not enough room for the wisdom teeth to grow through, you can experience a lot of pain as the teeth grow out at an angle, push on your other teeth, or grow into the nerves at the root of the neighbouring teeth.
What’s the Best Painkiller for Toothache?
Different painkillers work in different ways, so it’s not always easy to know which painkiller is best for one particular problem.
- Paracetamol is an acetaminophen and works by blocking pain signals in the brain
- Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and reduces inflammation
- Codeine is an opioid which prevents the brain from sending pain signals to the rest of the body
When choosing which type of painkiller you need, it’s tempting to opt for the strongest option, however, paracetamol and ibuprofen are often the best options as they can work together and treat your pain in a different way.
If your gum or jaw is inflamed, ibuprofen is the best for reducing the swelling, however, you can only take one or two 200mg ibuprofen tablets every four to six hours, and a maximum of six tablets a day. So if you’re experiencing severe pain, you can take one or two 500mg tablets of paracetamol every four hours, up to 8 a day, as well as the ibuprofen to help reduce your pain even further.
You can also get pain relief gels in some pharmacies that you can rub onto your gums to reduce the pain, but make sure you buy one that is safe to put in your mouth, and don’t use these in conjunction with other pain relief medication.
If you still have toothache despite taking painkillers, and the pain lasts for more than 2 days, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.
Is Toothache an Emergency?
Toothache can be so painful that it feels like an emergency, but unless you’ve had severe pain for 48 hours, or an injury to your teeth, then it’s unlikely you’ll need an emergency dental appointment.
If your toothache has lasted more than 48 hours and you can’t stand the pain, you can call your dentist for an emergency appointment, or get the details of an out-of-hours dentist from their answer phone so you can be seen immediately. Your GP cannot help you with dental problems, so don’t go to your GP for toothache.
In general, hospitals cannot help you with toothache or dental problems either, however, if you have sustained a serious injury or your toothache is causing severe swelling, they may be able to help you.
- Your eye or neck are swollen
- You are struggling to breathe, swallow or speak due to swelling around your tongue, lips, or neck
- You are bleeding heavily
A dental emergency and a medical emergency requiring hospital treatment are different, so unless you’re suffering from one of the symptoms listed above, see your dentist as soon as possible and don’t go to the hospital.
Will an Emergency Dentist Remove a Tooth?
Depending on the severity of your dental problem that’s causing you to have toothache, a dentist may remove your tooth in an emergency appointment. If you simply have a tooth infection, your dentist will probably give you antibiotics and arrange for a follow-up appointment to check how well they’re working. If you’ve broken or cracked your tooth and it needs to be removed as quickly as possible, your dentist will do this in an emergency appointment.
When you call your dentist to make your emergency dental appointment, they may be able to fit you in that day (or night) or they may assess the situation over the phone and make you a routine appointment as soon as possible. They should be able to tell you how much it’s likely to cost to remove your tooth as an emergency.
Can You Get a Wisdom Tooth Removed as an Emergency?
Wisdom teeth removals are not usually emergencies as they grow slowly, causing an aching pain, rather than the agonising pain of a broken tooth or tooth infection. However, if the tooth is impacted, then it can be very painful and should be removed as soon as possible. Your dentist may take a look at your teeth in an emergency appointment to find the cause of the pain, and schedule you for a wisdom tooth extraction.
What Is a Tooth Extraction Like?
The main fear people have when booking a dentist appointment is that any procedure is going to be painful. But when it comes to surgical dental procedures like tooth extraction, you’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area before it’s removed, so you won’t feel any pain.
Keeping your mouth open for 15 to 30 minutes can be uncomfortable, and you’ll feel some pressure on your jaw and other teeth as the problematic tooth is extracted, but the procedure isn’t painful.
You may also have some swelling and bruising on your cheek after the procedure, and you’ll be advised to take painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol by your dentist to reduce pain once the anaesthetic has worn off.
Does the NHS Have Emergency Dental Appointments?
You can have an emergency dental appointment on the NHS by calling your registered dentist and getting information on your nearest emergency or out-of-hours dentist from their answerphone. If you’re not registered with a dentist, you can also receive this information by calling 111.
However, you will still be charged the standard rate of £25.80 for your emergency treatment and additional costs for any further treatment you may need. For example, if you have an emergency check up and the dentist does not remove your tooth but schedules an appointment for a tooth extraction at a later date, you will have to pay for both of these appointments.
There is a shortage of NHS dentists so getting an appointment may take up to 12 months, which is why seeing a private dentist is often more beneficial. Private dental care is more expensive, however, you will receive necessary timely appointments as well as excellent care with top of the range equipment at your disposal, so registering with a private dentist is worth it.
Didsbury Dental Practice – 24-Hour Private Dentists
If you need a routine or emergency dental appointment in Manchester, contact Didsbury Dental Practice today, to get your appointment at a time that suits you.