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How Long Can I Take Ibuprofen for a Toothache?

Posted by AllSmiles

Man in pain with a toothache portraying ibuprofen use and need for an emergency dentistHow long can I take ibuprofen for a toothache? I have put off seeing a dentist for the past three months for an upper right toothache. I think that I have waited too long because it’s throbbing now. The pain went from moderate to severe over the weekend. I am leaving next week for a vacation in Seattle to see family and friends and will be there for three weeks. I am concerned that I might need a root canal. If I see a dentist now, I might miss my trip, but I don’t want to go to an out-of-state emergency room for a toothache. You probably can tell that I have dental anxiety, which is why I have delayed treatment. Can I keep taking ibuprofen for three weeks until I return? Thank you. Brad from NH


Thank you for your question. Your concerns about your toothache and how long you can use ibuprofen to minimize the discomfort are valid.

How Long Can You Take Ibuprofen for a Toothache?

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Ibuprofen Drug Facts Label, you should stop taking the drug if the pain worsens or lasts more than ten days. Taking too much ibuprofen increases these risks:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Kidney damage

Also, the FDA warns that long-term continuous ibuprofen use increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.

When Does a Toothache Become an Emergency?

A toothache becomes an emergency when you have prolonged, nagging pain from decay or trauma. But a hospital emergency room cannot resolve the cause of your toothache. Only a dentist can x-ray your tooth and determine whether you have a tooth infection or abscess, and only a dentist can provide the treatment you need.

See a Dentist for a Prolonged Toothache

If you have a prolonged toothache, schedule an appointment with a dentist. Many general dentists leave time in their daily schedule to see patients with dental emergencies. If you call after-hours, you can leave a message, and an on-call dentist will contact you. If you need root canal treatment, you may be able to find a dentist to schedule it before your departure.

Without dental care, you can experience the following complications:

  • The tooth infection will spread
  • The infection can affect other teeth or your bone
  • You may be at risk of losing the tooth

If you cannot see a dentist before your leave for Seattle, rather than seeking a hospital emergency room in Seattle, look for a skilled dentist there willing to examine and x-ray your tooth and provide treatment. Explain your anxiety, and the dentist will discuss sedation options to relax you during treatment.

Dr. Thaddeus Michalski, a Rocky Hill, Connecticut dentist, sponsors this post.