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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Toothache (for Teenagers)


You have a painful tooth. Sometimes it is just a temporarily sensitive tooth, but usually it means decay or a cavity is present. One complication of a decaying tooth is a gum boil just below the gum line. The infection in the tooth may also spread to the face (giving a swollen cheek) or to the lymph node just under the jawbone.


  1. Flossing

    First use dental floss on either side of the painful tooth. The removal of a jammed piece of food may bring quick relief.

  2. Pain relief medicine

    First treat your toothache with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If the pain lasts more than a day or becomes severe, call your dentist. An ice cube on the tooth or ice pack on the jaw for 20 minutes will also help.

  3. Oil of cloves for severe toothache

    If you cannot see a dentist for several days and an open cavity is visible, clean all food out of the cavity with a toothpick, Water-Pik, or water in a syringe. Put in a few drops of oil of cloves (80% eugenol). You won't need a prescription to get oil of cloves. If the cavity is large, pack it with a small piece of cotton soaked with oil of cloves. Try to keep the oil of cloves off the tongue because it stings. The cavity can also be temporarily sealed with melted candle wax. Just rub it in with your fingertip.

  4. Prevention

    Brush your teeth, especially the back molars, after every meal. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste.


  • The pain is very severe.
  • You have a fever (over 100 degrees F, or 37.8 degrees C).
  • Your face is swollen.
  • You are feeling very sick.


  • You have had the pain for more than a day.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems