If you’ve ever experienced a toothache, then you understand how painful it can be, whether it’s a dull, throbbing pain in your jaw; or maybe one side of your mouth hurts when you bite down on something, or you may even get a sharp pain whenever you drink a cold drink. Toothaches can take many different forms, but they usually have one thing in common: they tend to be a symptom of an issue that a dentist will need to address.
Yuliya Rabinovich, a general dentist, says that “pain is one way our body is trying to communicate to us that something isn’t working correctly and needs our attention. The only solution to cure a toothache is to see your friendly dentist for diagnosis and treatment. The treatment could be a simple filling or a root canal treatment, or extraction of the tooth.
On occasion, tooth pain goes away on its own, but that doesn’t mean the tooth has healed. More often than not, spontaneous, unprovoked pain is a sign of a resonant cavity and if it goes away on its own usually means the infection is setting in. If you need pain relief before making it to the dentist, ibuprofen may temporarily alleviate symptoms. Whatever the cause for the pain, don’t ignore it.”
Even if the pain subsides on its own, that doesn’t mean the issue has resolved itself. If your tooth or jaw is hurting, there’s a good chance that your body’s telling you that something is wrong.
What causes toothache?
Toothache occurs from inflammation of the central portion of the tooth called the pulp. The pulp contains nerve endings that are very sensitive to pain. Inflammation to the pulp or pulpitis may be caused by dental cavities, trauma, and infection. Referred pain from the jaw may cause you to have symptoms of a toothache.
There isn’t one single cause of toothaches, and because dental pain is usually a symptom of a more severe problem, you must consult your dentist as soon as possible.
The most common causes of dental pain include:
If plaque remains beneath the gum, and it can damage the bone that supports your teeth and the roots of your teeth as well. This causes teeth to loosen and ache.
Tooth decay and gum disease can cause an abscess to form below or alongside the tooth root, which causes pain and spreads infection.
If your tooth gets chipped or cracked, this can also expose the pulp and put you at risk of disease.
If you grind your teeth at night or during the day, this causes the teeth to wear down over time, exposing the sensitive middle layers of teeth and straining the surrounding supporting structures.
If your teeth are crooked or not misaligned, this can cause uneven pressure in the mouth and require orthodontic treatment.
How to ease discomfort
If you can’t get to the dentist right away, try these simple home remedies to relieve some discomfort before your appointment.
Saltwater helps to remove bacteria from the mouth and can reduce swelling. Add between a quarter and half a teaspoon of salt to warm water and gargle for at least five seconds. Take care not to swallow the water.
Take a painkiller
Over-the-counter pain relief medication such as aspirin can ease the pain if it’s distracting or you’re finding it difficult to sleep. Painkillers should only be swallowed and not applied directly to the gums, as the acid can burn the gum tissue.
Place a cold compress or ice pack against your cheek to help numb the pain. Don’t apply ice directly to your tooth, as toothaches often cause heightened sensitivity to temperature.
These home remedies offer quick relief from toothaches, but the effect is only temporary. To eradicate the pain for good, your dentist needs to treat the cause, not the symptom.
Medical Treatment for Toothaches
In most cases, toothaches or jaw pain signifies a problem that must be cared for by a dentist. In some cases, the doctor may try an injection around the tooth for pain control.
- At the dentist’s office, fillings, pulling teeth, or other procedures may be performed as required. A tooth extraction will be the most likely to proceed with a primary (baby) tooth. If the problem is severe on permanent teeth, root canal therapy (cleaning out the nerves and blood vessels and sealing off the root canals of the tooth) and crown procedures are generally performed.
- Your dentist will usually prescribe an antibiotic if a fever or swelling of the jaw is present. Such procedures are generally done in stages, with pain and infection being cared for immediately and reconstructive procedures being performed later (weeks to months). You will be able to return to work or school while you recover. Dentists and oral surgeons may plan additional procedures at the most appropriate time.
- If it causes other than the teeth or jaw are responsible for the pain, your dentist will decide on the best treatment for your condition.
Dr. Charles Sutera, explains the few instances in which patients should seek dental help immediately in the following situations:
- There is swelling within the mouth or on the outside of the mouth
- If you had a severe accident that caused an impact to the mouth or jaw
- If you have dental pain and also underlying uncontrolled disease like severe diabetes, immunocompromised, etc.
Most people can avoid toothaches and severe dental problems with regular dental care. Have your dentist’s telephone number readily available in case of an emergency.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Bacteria thrive on refined sugar and starch and need this to burrow through the enamel on your teeth.
- Brush your teeth after eating and rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthwash to help eliminate bacteria that cause plaque and early gum disease.
- Get your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist or hygienist at least twice a year. It may help in preventing both decay and gum disease.
- Keep your bridge or dentures clean.
- Wear a protective dental guard or headgear while playing sports to help prevent injury.
- Stop smoking – tobacco may make some dental conditions worse.
Why choose Swedish Dental?
At Swedish Dental, we take pride in our customer service, all of our receptionists are highly trained so if you have any questions on dental treatments or toothache – don’t hesitate to give us a call!