If you have ever had a dental emergency, then you are aware of how painful and frightening the whole experience can be. In times like that, people are often unsure of what exactly constitutes as a dental emergency. Typically, going to the dentist is always a solution but what if it isn’t their office hours? What can a hospital do for a toothache?

There is a whole lot of uncertainty when it comes to going to a hospital for a toothache. A toothache doesn’t occur during the working hours of a dentist, and dentists don’t work for 24 hours a day. So, in case you have a severe toothache, and home remedies do not work out to ease it, does it make sense to head to the hospital to treat it? Let’s find the answer to that question.

What Can a Hospital Do for a Toothache?

There are two top queries that occur in everyone’s mind who are planning to go to a hospital for a dental emergency. We have listed these two in a question and answer form to give you a better understanding of this issue.

Question #1

Sometimes a toothache can become so unbearable that you need medical intervention. While without a doubt, going to a dentist is an ideal solution, in some instances, such as in the middle of the night or on a Sunday or a holiday, you have to find an alternative. So, is going to a hospital a viable option?

Answer: This is a dilemma that is surprisingly very common. A lot of people decide to visit a hospital when the pain becomes unbearable. If you are lucky, you will find a dentist there. However, not many dentists work in a hospital.

In a hospital, you will most likely find a general physician to deal with such issues. These physicians are not trained and allowed to pull out a cavity.

So, when your toothache is painful, you should try managing the pain at home as much as you can. Going to a hospital may not be the ideal solution.

That being said, if the pain is unbearable and severe, and it is just not possible to get it under control, you can head to a hospital. However, bear in mind that there is not a whole lot that the doctors in the hospital can do for you.

The most they will do to treat your pain is maybe put you on some antibiotics to help the infection in your tooth. They may also provide you with some stronger pain medication, the kind you do not get over the counter, which could help make you feel a little better. The bottom line is that a dentist is the only one who can get to the root cause of the issue.

Question #2

What if the tooth that aches has an abscess and not only does it hurt severely but also looks very ugly? Can you then head to a hospital?

Answer: If you have reached a point where a toothache is not just pain but also turned into a massive swelling on the side of your face, which could be extending lower all the way to your neck and causing you breathing troubles, then you must rush to a hospital and not wait for your dentist. This is a matter of life and death.

While the general physician may not be able to heal a dental abscess, they will certainly stop it from spreading any further where it reaches a point that it can be life-threatening. Also, dental emergencies or traumas that involve the mouth and the face that will require immediate medical intervention may include serious cuts, lacerations to the face, jaw dislocations, and jaw fractures.

In all of those situations which could potentially harm your life, you must not wait to go to a dentist’s office. Rush to a hospital as quickly as you can or call 911 right away.

When Should You See a Dentist?

As mentioned earlier, it can be confusing when you should wait for a dentist or visit a hospital. Dental emergencies that aren’t considered as life-threatening but still require medical intervention are the kinds when you need to visit a dentist.

To give you an example, if you have either cracked or broken tooth or have a tooth completely knocked out of your mouth, and the bleeding isn’t a lot, then you can try some home remedies and wait till you can visit a dentist to handle the issue. In the case of tooth decay or an abscessed tooth, unless you feel that it is affecting your ability to swallow or breathe, it is best to wait for a dentist again.

What Are Some Remedies to Help Ease the Pain?

In the case where it isn’t a severe toothache, and you have to wait for a dentist, one of the best solutions to help deal with your toothache is to have either an over-the-counter pain reliever or a pain anesthetic. Pain relievers come in the form of a tablet. For adults, you can choose between ibuprofen and paracetamol, while for children, acetaminophen is the best pain reliever as it is mild and safe.

Alternatively, you can also choose to use a pain anesthetic liquid or gel by applying it on the affected tooth or over the gums. These products contain benzocaine, which can numb the area for a limited period.

Both solutions make perfect sense when you have no choice but to wait for a dentist. However, you must bear in mind that these are just temporary solutions and you cannot keep consuming pain relievers now and then since it is not good for your body.


When it comes to what can a hospital do for a toothache, it is limited. The most they will do is to help manage the pain and not let it become life-threatening, but do note that going to a hospital is a must if you feel your breathing is affected.

That being said, a dentist is always going to be a suitable option for any tooth-related issues. With good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentists, you can altogether eliminate the possibility of things becoming severe.

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