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Acute vs. Chronic Toothache: When to See Your Dentist

Posted March 01, 2019 in Extraction, Night Guards, Oral Pain, Periodontal Services, Root Canal, TMJ/Bruxism, Toothaches

Woman grimacing with hand on jaw indicating she has a toothaceh

The nagging pain of a toothache can affect your daily routine from chewing to overall comfort. Without the necessary treatment, a toothache can worsen and potentially develop into a more severe condition. If you are experiencing tooth pain, you may need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to alleviate the discomfort and treat the root cause of your condition.

Is Your Toothache Acute or Chronic?

  • Acute: If your toothache lasts less than six months and only occurs sporadically, it may be considered acute pain. This type of tooth pain may not require professional treatment, but it would still be worth mentioning at your next check-up appointment.
  • Chronic: If you are suffering from a toothache that persists for longer than six months, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. It is particularly crucial to see your dentist if your pain becomes severe or if it hinders your daily activities.

Causes of Toothaches

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum or periodontal disease
  • Abscessed tooth
  • Tooth fracture
  • Oral infection

Temporary At-Home Solutions

For temporary relief from tooth pain, there are some at-home solutions to try. You can apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth near the targeted tooth. You can also rinse your mouth with salt water, which reduces inflammation and combats bacteria that could contribute to your toothache. If the discomfort continues, you may take over-the-counter pain medication.

Professional Dental Care

Man smiling sitting in dental chair giving a thumbs up sign

It is always recommended to voice your concerns with your dentist, especially if you have bothersome tooth pain. An acute toothache may be bearable initially, but it is best to schedule an exam to treat any dental condition early.

TMJ/Bruxism Treatment

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can wear the teeth down and lead to toothaches or jaw pain. For example, it can strain the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or cause the affected teeth to become overly sensitive. Depending on your unique condition, TMJ/Bruxism treatment may involve occlusal adjustment, relaxation techniques, or the use of night guards.

Periodontal Treatment

If a toothache is caused by gum or periodontal disease, it is imperative to undergo specialized periodontal treatment. At Gentle Care Dentistry, we offer a range of periodontal services that include scaling and root planing, periodontal maintenance, biopsy, and occlusal adjustment.

Root Canal

A root canal can treat tooth infections or abscess and permanently minimize uncomfortable tooth sensitivity. Patients who undergo this procedure usually experience significant relief and can enjoy eating and speaking with comfort again. At Gentle Care Dentistry, we make sure to create a relaxing environment for all of our patients so that they have the most soothing root canal experience possible.


We try to prevent tooth loss whenever we can. However, if a tooth has been severely damaged or the extent of decay is too pronounced to save the tooth, extraction (tooth removal) may be necessary as a last resort. Our dentists are highly experienced with extractions and can perform this procedure using the most advanced techniques in dentistry. To restore the cosmetic and functional appearance of your smile following tooth removal, we also offer tooth replacement services, such as bridges and dental implants.

If a toothache is affecting your quality of life, and you desire relief, please schedule an appointment at Gentle Care Dentistry by calling (575) 524-3722 or by filling out our online contact form today!