How Do Dentists Treat a Toothache?

woman holding her mouth while looking in the mirror, toothache

Dentists treat a toothache based on what is causing it. A minor toothache can result from a fleeting gum irritation that you can treat at home. But a severe toothache may need treatment by a dentist to resolve the discomfort and whatever is triggering it.

If you have a toothache that is causing you severe pain, visit your dentist as soon as you can. If left untreated, toothaches can cause more serious medical problems. This piece explains how dentists treat a toothache to keep your dental health in check.

Dental Assessment

When you report to your dentist’s office seeking treatment for your toothache, the dentist will first perform a dental exam. The exam will involve a review of your dental health history and an X-ray to check the health of the inner structures of your tooth.

These assessments allow your dentist to identify the problem and the source of the toothache. Typical causes of toothaches include:

  • Tooth decay or cavity

  • Broken or fractured tooth

  • Damaged tooth filling

  • Bacterial infection inside the tooth

  • Worn-down enamel

  • Tooth eruption (tooth coming out of the gum)

  • Tooth extraction; for instance, wisdom teeth

  • Gum infection

A thorough assessment of your teeth will lead to an accurate diagnosis. With the exam results, your dentist can create a suitable treatment plan.


Your dentist may recommend the following treatment options, depending on what is causing your toothache.


Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic if there is a fever or gum swelling. Tiny food particles can get wedged under the gums, causing a bacterial infection. In such cases, your dentist may perform or recommend a deep cleaning of your gum or gum therapy if necessary.

But first, your dentist will treat the pain and infection and perform necessary dental procedures later.

Dental Filling

Sometimes, treating a toothache may only need a dental filling. If the aching tooth is intact and not injured, a dental filling should be able to restore it.

Dental fillings usually treat toothaches caused by decay or cavities. During the procedure, the dentist will numb the tooth and drill into it. After eliminating the decay, the dentist cleans the tooth to clear away bacteria. The dentist will sterilize the tooth to discourage more bacteria from growing.

The final step involves filling the tooth with ceramic or composite resin filling.

Root Canal

For a severe cavity or if your tooth's nerve is infected, you may require a root canal procedure. The procedure allows the dentist to remove the nerve infection. That way, you can save your tooth. Once the infection is out, the dentist will seal your tooth and perhaps place a crown over the treated tooth to prevent further damage.

Tooth Extraction

Dentists may extract a tooth if the decay, damage, or infection is beyond repair. Your dentist will only recommend tooth removal if it benefits the rest of your teeth, gums, and mouth. Later, you can replace the missing tooth with an implant, denture, or dental bridge.

For more on how dentists treat a toothache, call Eagle Gate Dental at 801-781-5300 to reach our office in Salt Lake City, Utah