What To Do About Sudden Tooth Pain

Posted on September 8th, 2023 at 11:39 AM
What To Do About Sudden Tooth Pain

Have you ever woken up with a toothache that was gone before lunchtime? Do you avoid biting into ice cream because it hurts your teeth when you do? Has your mouth been aching on and off ever since you started using whitening strips? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have experience with sudden tooth pain. 

Why Am I Experiencing Sudden Dental Pain?

Not every toothache means your tooth is about to fall out. Sudden, sharp tooth pain that goes away over time can have several causes, including:


A common cause of acute dental pain is cavities. As plaque builds up on your teeth, it eats through the enamel. This leaves permanent holes in the surface of your teeth. While easily treated by a professional, they are painful and grow until treated. 

Eroding Enamel

Over time, the enamel coating your teeth can erode due to aggressive brushing, eating highly acidic foods, or even eating disorders, particularly bulimia. This can make your teeth ache due to increased sensitivity. Eroded enamel can also make your teeth sensitive to hot or cold foods. 

Receding Gums

Your gums help to protect the nerve endings near the roots of your teeth. If the tissue is worn down, your gums will recede and expose these nerves, which can make your teeth more sensitive. 

Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding or clenching your jaw can wear down enamel and put pressure on your teeth, causing pain. Many people clench their jaws in their sleep or during stressful situations, which means you could be damaging your enamel without realizing it. 

Recent Dental Procedures

If you recently had dental work done, your teeth may be sore. Even a routine professional teeth cleaning can leave them tender for a day or two, so don’t worry—in this case, some discomfort is completely normal. 

Teeth Whiteners

Teeth whitening products such as whitening strips or bleaching gels can make your teeth more sensitive, leading to dental pain. This is because many at-home tooth whiteners use active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, which thins enamel and irritates dental nerves. 

At-Home Management of Acute Dental Pain

Even if you’re unsure of the cause, it’s possible to treat some dental pain at home. Note that these methods are only for minor issues; serious ones should be treated by a dentist. 

Rinsing with Salt Water

Rinsing your mouth with salt water is a quick, easy way to disinfect minor wounds and loosen debris in your mouth. It can also help to ease swelling. 

Cold Compresses

A cold compress applied to the jaw can help numb tooth pain. If you’re making your own, be sure not to apply ice or an ice pack directly to your skin—wrap it in a cloth first. 

Avoiding Crunchy/Non-Room Temperature Foods

If you’re experiencing pain when eating hot, cold, or crunchy foods, avoiding them can alleviate your discomfort. This won’t solve the sensitivity, but it will spare you some tooth pain. 

Oral Analgesics

Oral analgesics are painkillers taken by mouth and can be useful for stopping dental pain. For example, over-the-counter medicine like Ibuprofen is a great way to deal with minor toothaches. If you’re experiencing bleeding, avoid Tylenol and Aspirin—the active ingredients can make you bleed more. 

Stop Using Teeth Whiteners

If you’re using teeth whitening products, try avoiding them for a few days to see if your pain and sensitivity subside. 

When to See a Professional

Home remedies will only get you so far when it comes to dental pain. You should seek out a professional if you experience one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Pain that lasts more than 48 hours
  • Pain is accompanied by a fever or headache
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Pus 

These symptoms are signs of a more serious issue, such as serious damage or an infection, that won’t go away without professional medical intervention. 

Pain-Free Treatment at Sleep Dentistry

If you’re suffering from a cavity, cracked tooth, or other painful dental issue, come to Sleep Dentistry. As the only licensed dental anesthesiologist in Erie and one of only 300 in the US, Dr. Kevin Mahoney can ensure that you sleep through your procedure completely pain-free. Schedule an appointment with Sleep Dentistry today and rest easy knowing your dental care is in good hands.