If you wake up in the middle of the night and your jaw feels like it’s been hit by a sledgehammer, you’re probably suffering from what dentist near me walk in call an acute dental emergency — a toothache that can’t wait until the morning to be seen. If you have no dentist near you, or if your regular one isn’t answering calls at 1 in the morning, there are some steps you can take to manage the pain and get immediate relief from your toothache until you can see someone in person.
Call your dentist
When your toothache gets bad enough to keep you up at night, call your dentist. Odds are he or she will tell you to come in right away, especially if it’s a weekend or holiday. Many dental offices are open early and close late on weekdays, so it won’t be hard to find one with an emergency department open when you need it. If yours isn’t one of them, ask for a referral; most dentists know other offices that can step in to help when they’re closed.
Visit an urgent care center
In most cases, you can find an urgent care center within a few miles of your home or office—and they’re more convenient than a trip to your dentist. Even if you have no dental insurance, it’s generally easier and cheaper to get treatment from an urgent care center, which isn’t required to hold on to all that overhead that dentist near me open on saturdays are stuck with.
So visit one if you have a toothache. Most urgent care centers have special services for minor injuries and illnesses that don’t require a doctor’s visit. They may be able to help solve your problem in less time than it would take for an appointment with your dentist–especially if you’re able to walk in without making an appointment ahead of time.
See an ER Dentist if you have no other options
If you can’t see your dentist right away, don’t want to make an appointment or aren’t able to get a dental referral (such as if your health insurance only covers in-network dentists), there are some other things you can do in a pinch.
First, it’s important to note that most dental emergencies can be treated with basic over-the-counter medication and/or home remedies (like rinsing out your mouth with warm salt water) before you visit a dentist. The exception is for something like a broken tooth—if you suspect one of your teeth is cracked or chipped, it could cause infection; in that case, head straight to an ER dentist.
Many toothaches can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin. Keep in mind that if you have a fever or swelling, these might not be safe for you. In addition, acetaminophen should be taken with food because it can damage your liver if taken on an empty stomach.
Always check with your dentist before taking over-the-counter medication to treat a toothache—some prescription painkillers could be more effective than OTC meds. Over time, taking too many of these medications could cause side effects such as kidney and gastrointestinal problems. It’s best to use them only when absolutely necessary and talk to your dentist about possible treatments after you stop experiencing pain.
Natural remedies like ibuprofen, clove oil, and peppermint oil
Natural remedies can work, but it’s important to talk to your dentist first. He or she may want you to try over-the-counter remedies before diving into a potentially expensive treatment. Be sure to tell your dentist how long your tooth pain has been going on and how severe it is, as that information will help him or her tailor a remedy for you. Before taking any natural remedy, be sure to check with your dentist about any side effects or other implications.
Use mouthwash (no alcohol)
The most immediate thing you can do for a toothache is rinse your mouth with warm salt water. The solution may not relieve pain, but it will help to soften plaque and food debris that could be causing you discomfort. For acute or sudden toothaches, head to your local pharmacy to pick up non-alcoholic mouthwash—the kind used after dental procedures. Even if you’re not in immediate need of dental care, it’s a good idea to keep some in your home first aid kit. Using Listerine can be especially helpful if there is an infection present that might cause permanent damage if left untreated. It can also be gargled twice daily to prevent or at least postpone further damage while waiting for an appointment with a dentist near me walk away.
Get some rest
When you have a toothache, your first instinct might be to head to the emergency room right away. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with ASAP—and to stay in bed if possible.
In fact, sleeping is probably one of your best options for how to deal with a toothache; your mouth will rest, and there won’t be any pressure on your gums or teeth. Don’t worry about taking painkillers or having them affect any medication you may be taking; most dentists agree that over-the-counter pain relief for toothaches is perfectly safe.