Does Brushing Teeth Help With Toothache?

This blog post will address the topic, “does brushing teeth help with toothache” and cover topics like what is a toothache & why does it occur, why do some toothaches hurt more at night, when to see a dentist, non-odontogenic toothache and ways to identify them, managing toothache at home and prevention of toothache.

Does Brushing Teeth Help With Toothache

Brushing teeth twice a day using a gentle toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste helps with a minor toothache.

If the toothache is of gingival origin and is resulting from a gum disease or gingivitis, then brushing and flossing with minimum force, touching the painful area, helps relieve the pain. 

Use an appropriate toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash to maintain good oral hygiene and keep your teeth away from cavities, decay and toothache.

What is a Toothache, Why Does It Occur And What Are Its Symptoms?

What Is A Toothache?

Toothache is the ache or pain in a tooth or several teeth, which may or may not involve the surrounding structures.

Toothache is not always due to tooth cavities or decay. It can also be a result of many systemic diseases involving the heart and gastrointestinal tract.

Toothache arising from tooth decay or any infection of the pulp, is known as Odontogenic Toothache whereas those having a systemic cause are called Non-Odontogenic Toothache.

Causes Of Toothache: Why Does It Occur?

Cavity development on the tooth is the most common cause of toothache. Let us understand how a cavity forms.

Cavity: How Does It Develop?

Consumption of sugary and starch rich foods expose the tooth to acids frequently, resulting in mineral loss from the enamel.

Infrequent tooth brushing habits cause poor oral hygiene, resulting in plaque accumulation.

Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that coats the protective enamel of your teeth. These bacteria produce acids by breaking down the food debris and the acids penetrate the enamel leading to formation of white spots on the teeth.

Appearance of white spot is an indication of the start of tooth cavity formation and can be reversed at this point.

Ignoring it and continuing with the poor oral hygiene can cause more frequent acid attacks and finally destroying the enamel leading to formation of cavities.

Damaged Filling

Your filling may get damaged and wear out with time or before time due to improper care. 

The lost filling or damaged filling may expose the nerve endings of the tooth leading to toothache and sensitivity.

Dental Abscess

Dental abscess is pus formation in the tooth or periodontal structures due to bacterial infection.

The pus accumulation exerts more than normal pressure on the tooth and surrounding structures resulting in throbbing toothache.

Trauma Or Infection Of The Temporomandibular Joint 

Your jaw may get several sports injuries or trauma from bad oral habits like grinding and clenching of teeth.

Such injury to the jaw or any infection involving the jaw causes pain in the TMJ that sometimes or often radiates towards the teeth and surrounding structures resulting in toothache.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding or bruxism leads to dental abrasion, wearing out your teeth and sometimes weakening and fracturing it, exposing the nerve endings, leading to facial pain and toothache.

Teeth grinding is mostly attributed to stress and anxiety. It often occurs during night sleep in children.

Tooth Fracture Or Tooth Crack

Tooth fracture or any crack on the teeth due to any injury, may wear away your enamel and expose the inner dentinal tubules and nerve endings resulting in toothache and sensitive tooth.

Wisdom Tooth Eruption

Eruption of the wisdom tooth or the 3rd molars is extremely painful and in some people may cause minor fever as well.

Dry Socket

After 2-3 days of tooth extraction, you may experience severe pain resembling toothache. This may be due to a dry socket also called alveolar osteitis and you must see your dentist to resolve it.

Sinus Infection Toothache

Infection of the sinus or sinus inflammation called sinusitis may cause toothache that is mostly generalised and involves upper teeth and not just one tooth.

This is commonly due to the pressure exerted by the sinus inflammation or pus formation.

Symptoms Of A Toothache

Toothache due to different reasons may have different manifestations.

Toothache can be sharp and excruciating, throbbing that increases at night, or may be constant throughout.

In some people, toothache results from eating or drinking something sweet or hot or cold while in some it may manifest upon biting.

Depending on the cause, toothaches may manifest some common symptoms such as:

  • Periodontal swelling or swelling around the tooth structures.
  • Mild fever or headache
  • Mild Pain around the ear and neck.
  • Pus drainage from infected teeth.
  • Halitosis or bad breath.

Why Are Toothaches At Night So Painful?

Toothaches are painful during the day but the pain at night seems to get worse and disturbs sleep.

Increase in pain during night time may be attributed to increased blood supply to the head and neck area while sleeping.

The increased blood supply puts extra pressure on the sensitive areas of the mouth, causing more throbbing and pain in the sensitive or decayed tooth.

It is also believed that at night you have very few distractions to take your focus away from the pain and this immensely impacts your sleep.

When Is The Ideal Time To Visit My Dentist While Suffering From A Toothache?

Ideal time to visit your dentist is as soon as you get a toothache that lasts for over a day.

Opting for temporary home remedies will not help in the long run and may also cause your toothache to worsen.

Hence it is advised to visit your dentist while experiencing a toothache.

Non-Odontogenic Toothache & How To Identify Them?

Toothache is not always due to tooth cavities or decay. It can also be a result of many systemic diseases involving the heart and gastrointestinal tract.

Toothache arising from tooth decay or any infection of the pulp, is known as Odontogenic Toothache whereas those having a systemic cause are called Non-Odontogenic Toothache.

It is not easy to identify non-odontogenic causes of toothache. 

However knowing some cardinal symptoms of non-odontogenic toothache may help you to differentiate it from odontogenic toothache:

  •  Generalised toothache. 
  • No possible local cause for the toothache. 
  • Burning and non-throbbing toothache. 
  • Toothache that is constant and persistent. 
  • Frequent, recurring toothache. 
  • Toothache does not go even on injecting local anaesthetic or after dental treatment. 

Managing Toothache At Home

To manage your toothache at home, you can do the following:

Lukewarm Salt Water Rinse

Half teaspoon of salt added to a glass of lukewarm water is the best home remedy you can follow to reduce infection and inflammation.

Salt water acts as a disinfecting agent and thereby relieves pain.

Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Diluted hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 3% is an excellent home remedy to reduce inflammation and toothache.

Take necessary precautions while rinsing with this solution and make sure you do not swallow the diluted hydrogen peroxide.

Cold Ice Compress

Cold ice compress held for a period of 20 minutes over the inflamed area may help soothe out the pain by reducing inflammation and its burning sensation.

Don’t forget to repeat the process after every few hours for maximizing the benefits.

Pain Killers

Painkillers bought over-the-counter are temporary but effective way of reducing the discomfort and pain.

Make sure to not give aspirin to a child below 16 years of age as the chances of developing Reye’s Syndrome in them is significant.

Clove oil

Clove oil acts as a natural antiseptic. 

Pour a small amount of clove oil on the cotton and apply it on the painful tooth and regions around it. 

Clove oil will numb the pain and reduce inflammation.

You can also rinse with clove oil after adding it to a glass of water.

Vanilla extract

Apply the vanilla extract to the painful tooth area and gums with the help of cotton to get relief from toothache temporarily.

Vanilla extract has alcohol as the main component that acts as a numbing agent and antioxidant and thus reduces the inflammation and pain.

Peppermint tea

Peppermint has a soothing effect over the burning and painful area when applied against the tooth and gums.


Garlic paste, when applied to the area that is affected by toothache, relieves the pain by acting as an antimicrobial agent.

The antimicrobial property in garlic is due to the presence of allicin, an antimicrobial agent.

Prevent Toothache: Follow These 7 Simple Oral Hygiene Practices

Choose an appropriate toothbrush

Choosing an appropriate toothbrush is the first and most important step towards toothbrushing. Yet, this is neglected by most of the people.

Toothbrushes with more rounded bristles are soft to your teeth and are considered to be an ideal toothbrush to use. 

Do Not Immediately Brush after Eating Acidic Foods

You must wait for 30 minutes to one hour after consumption of acidic foods and drinks. The acid in the food or drink otherwise may erode the enamel layer and regular habit may cause exposed dentin leading to pain and sensitivity and increased risk of developing cavities.

Use Gentle and Short Strokes When Brushing Your Teeth

Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth and thoroughly clean your mouth without abrading the enamel.

Brush the outside surfaces as well as the back molars and upper areas of your chewing surfaces. Brush the inside surfaces of both top and bottom front teeth by flipping your toothbrush upside down.

Brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria or plaque.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride can greatly help achieve oral and dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. 

Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your mouth. 

Floss Daily To Get Maximum Benefits Out Of Tooth Brushing

Many people, despite knowing the benefits of flossing daily, just neglect it.

According to a study, flossing is highly effective in reducing the interproximal caries risk. 

Daily floss can help stimulate your gums and reduce plaque leading to lesser inflammation risk.

Consider mouthwash

Therapeutic mouthwashes as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. They also help remove halitosis.

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, all regulated by the FDA.

Consult A Dental Professional Twice In A Year

It is important to get your oral health checked twice every year with an interval of 6 months between two visits.

Your dentist can help remove calculus and locate cavities and will also be able to spot potential oral health issues, if any, and offer treatment solutions.


This blog post addressed the topic, “does brushing teeth help with toothache”. We understood what a toothache is & why it occurs, why do some toothaches hurt more at night, when to see a dentist, non-odontogenic toothache and ways to identify them. The article outlined some tips for managing toothache at home and prevention of toothache.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Does Brushing Teeth Help With Toothache

How To Instantly Get Relief From Toothache?

For instant relief from toothache, take an over-the-counter pain killer, use lukewarm salt water rinse multiple times throughout the day and try some clove oil and garlic which are easily available in your kitchen.

Why is Night Toothache Worse?

Night toothache is worse because of the increased blood supply to the head and neck area while sleeping.

The increased blood supply puts extra pressure on the sensitive areas of the mouth, causing more throbbing and pain in the sensitive or decayed tooth.

Does a throbbing tooth mean infection?

Yes, a throbbing tooth may indicate presence of infection in the form of decay or cavity or an abscess.

However, to know the exact cause of the tooth throbbing, you must visit your dentist and get your oral cavity examination done.

How long does a toothache last?

Toothache may last for a few days to a few weeks depending on the cause and severity of the toothache.

If it lasts for more than a few days, immediately consult your dentist to get an oral examination done and find out the exact cause of toothache.

Consuming pain killers to subside toothache may be dangerous in the long run with several side-effects.

How to know if your toothache is serious?

If your toothache is constant, has a regular pattern each time it occurs and lasts longer than a day or two, you must visit your dentist to get the oral cavity examined for any possible cause.

At times, your toothache will be accompanied by mild or high fever, earache, pain around the eyes and neck, headache and even pain on the wide opening of mouth. In such circumstances, consider your toothache to be serious and urgently visit your dentist.

Is hot water good for toothache?

Hot water alone might not be useful but adding a half teaspoon of salt to it , makes the mixture very effective for toothache.

Make sure the water is not hot but lukewarm. Otherwise, the symptoms may aggravate.

Is cold water bad for toothache?

No, cold water isn’t bad for toothache. 

In Fact you must apply cold ice compress and use cold water rinses to contract the nerves and lessen the pain or completely end it for a temporary period of time.

What is the best painkiller for toothache?

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Ibuprofen is considered the best painkiller for toothache as it not only relieves pain but also reduces inflammation.

It is advised that you must consult your dentist before any over-the-counter drugs to avoid any severe adverse effects.

Other FAQs about Teeth brushing that you may be interested in.

Does Brushing Teeth Make Them Whiter?

Can You Brush Away Yellow Teeth?

Does Brushing Teeth Break Fast?


9 methods to get rid of toothache at night

Toothache: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Ten Types of Toothaches: Causes and Remedies. (2018)

Teeth grinding. (2020)

Can a Sinus Infection Cause a Toothache? (2019)

Okeson JP. Non-odontogenic toothache. Northwest Dentistry. 2000 Sep-Oct;79(5):37-44. PMID: 11413614.

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