A toothache can vary in frequency from infrequent to constant and range in severity from mild to severe symptoms. If the tooth is sensitive to cold or sweets, it can be a warning that decay is present, a filling has failed, or the tooth is broken. There may be other factors, such as sinus infection, referred pain, or sensitive root surfaces.

Pain relievers or toothache preparations, available without prescription, may afford temporary relief from pain. It is important that the tooth not be subjected to hot or cold or to the pressure of chewing. Also, do not place aspirin directly on the gum or tooth. If a tooth is sensitive to heat or tender to the touch, or there is swelling present, serious nerve involvement may be suspect and root canal treatment may be required. One should seek a diagnosis as soon as possible.