Dental pain

Fast facts about dental pain

  • Pain is one of the most common reasons people visit a dentist18
  • Most dental pain is caused by inflammation, and may be due to various factors such as infection, trauma or following surgery18
  • The use of combination analgesics that act at multiple pain sites can improve pain relief and reduce recovery time19
  • Combination analgesics may have a faster onset and longer duration of action than single ingredient analgesics19
  • The most commonly used analgesics in dentistry include ibuprofen, paracetamol and codeine18

If you're experiencing a sharp, shooting pain then it is likely to be caused by exposure of your dentine (the bony part of your tooth below the enamel).20 It could also be caused by inflammation in the tooth pulp (the soft tissue in the middle of your tooth).20 A dull throbbing pain could be the result of tooth decay, cavities, gingivitis or food impaction which is when food becomes embedded in unhealthy areas of your teeth and gums.20

Adapted from Wetherell J, et al, 200120


Swishing warm salty water around in your mouth can help relieve some of the discomforts while you wait to see your dentist.21 Place a cold compress on your cheek to help ease any pain.21 This is especially helpful if your face is swollen.21

Would an analgesic be of value?

Yes, ask your dentist or pharmacist to recommend a combination analgesic with a fast onset and long duration of action that improves pain relief and reduces recovery time.19 The most commonly used analgesics in dentistry include ibuprofen, paracetamol and codeine.18

When to contact a dentist

It is always important to see a dentist when you have dental pain.

Frequently asked questions