You know the feeling: your tooth is throbbing and it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the pain. This is the story of many people who struggle with toothaches. In order to understand how a toothache can be treated, it’s important to know exactly what causes the pain.

What causes a toothache?

A toothache can have many causes:1

When to see a dentist for a toothache

Visit your dentist as soon as possible if:2

  • Your toothache lasts longer than 1–2 days
  • The pain is severe
  • You have a fever or earache
  • You experience pain when opening your mouth wide

Temporary toothache remedies

If you’re experiencing minor pain, or you need temporary relief until you can make it to the dentist, there are several options:3

  • Saltwater mouth rinse
  • Hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse
  • Cold compress
  • Ice pack
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Pain-relieving gels

Permanent toothache solutions

Successful treatment for a toothache can depend on the cause. If it’s caused by a cavity, your dentist may simply fill the cavity. If the cavity is severe and can’t be filled, the tooth may be extracted.4

If the nerve of the tooth has become infected with bacteria, a root canal may be necessary. This procedure removes inflamed or infected tissue from inside a tooth, then fills and seals the hole to prevent reinfection. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if you have a fever or swelling of the jaw.5

Toothaches and headaches

One of the main causes of migraine headaches is an extended toothache. Almost all headaches and toothaches can be linked to one of the largest nerves in the head—the trigeminal nerve. Due to this connection, most toothaches can directly cause headaches.6

Other reactions to toothaches, such as muscle clenching and jaw tightening, can eventually lead to headaches, as well.7 So, while you may feel like you can handle the pain of a normal toothache, you still should seek treatment before it leads to a bigger problem.

Humana can help with toothache treatment

If you need professional treatment for a toothache, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with affordable monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana dental insurance page.

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  1. “Dental Health and Toothaches,” WebMD, last accessed March 13, 2023,
  2. “Dental Health and Toothaches.”
  3. “Toothache Home Remedies,” WebMD, last accessed March 13, 2023,
  4. “Dental Health and Toothaches.”
  5. “Dental Health and Toothaches.”
  6. “The Possible Link Between Your Headache and Your Toothache,” Verywell Health, last accessed March 13, 2023,
  7. “The Possible Link Between Your Headache and Your Toothache.”