At some point of our life, we all would have experienced pain in the jaws and around the teeth. This is referred to as toothache. Often tooth decay is the cause for such pain. For some people toothache is felt only while drinking or eating hot/cold foods wherein their teeth has become sensitive. Underlying nerve gets irritated causing tooth pain. But number of other factors can also cause toothache.
Kinds Of Pain :
- Toothache can be acute/sharp or sudden or sometimes dull and chronic. It can start abruptly even at night. Pain that is dull during daytime can become worse during night.
- Another problem with toothache is it becomes difficult to exactly point out the originating place of pain. Many people cannot be able to decide whether pain is arising from lower teeth or upper ones. Tooth pain can be felt coming from the ear portion when the molar teeth get affected.
- There are times when you can feel the pain coming from the nasal cavities behind the cheekbones when your upper teeth are affected. The affected area of the tooth can become warm to touch due to intense pain.
When To Seek Help From Your Dentist ?
You can wait for a couple of days to check if the toothache has reduced. If not you can visit your dentist to get it treated. If left untreated for long, toothache can seriously affect the pulp leading to dental abscess and periodontal disease. OTC medications like Ibuprofen and other painkillers can be taken in the meanwhile to reduce the pain until you get an appointment.
Toothache Causes :
- Inflammation of the dental pulp can cause toothache. Innermost layer of the teeth is known as dental pulp and when there is swelling in this layer this can cause toothache. Several blood vessels and nerve present in the dental pulp gets affected due to inflammation causing pain.
- Any infection of the tooth, gum disease and plaque (collection of debris) in the tooth can cause toothache. Dental decay or cracked teeth or poorly fitting dental crowns or leakage of fillings and loss of tooth can cause moderate to severe toothache.
- Loose fillings and receding gums can also cause toothache. For some people collection of pus inside the tooth can lead to infection and pain. Ulcerous growth on the gums, swollen gums and sinusitis can also affect the tooth causing pain.
- Sometime, pain outside the dental area can be felt as toothache. For instance any problem in the temporomandibular joint or ear nerves or sinuses can cause pain in your teeth. Even heart problems can induce toothache for some people.
- Any injury or trauma to the teeth can cause considerable pain.
Toothache Symptoms :
- Toothache may range from mild to severe depending on the causative factor.
- Many times the pain can be felt towards the cheek and even on the jaw and ear region.
- Some of the symptoms of toothache include pain while eating or chewing movements, swelling of jaw surrounding the tooth and bleeding of gums occasionally. Drinking hot or cold things can cause intense sharp pain due to irritation of nerves.
- The area of the affected teeth can become tender and red in color due to swelling. Dental decay is one of the main reasons for such pain.
Toothache Tests :
Mere physical examination of your teeth can indicate the nature of problem for your dentist. But he may request for teeth X-ray or in rare cases a CT scan to get accurate picture of the problem.
Toothache Treatment :
- Treatment for toothache depends on the cause and nature of pain.
- In case the toothache is due to referred causes (pain originating from other parts of the body) your dentist may prescribe suitable painkillers for resolving the problem.
- Pain caused by tooth decay can be treated by removing the decayed part of the teeth and filling the gap with suitable paste.
- If the problem is due to broken filling or loose filling your dentist would remove the filling and clear off the debris inside and replace the gap with fresh filling.
- Root canal treatment is done if the tooth has been badly infected. This may take 2-3 sessions of treatment. Initially the dentist would give a shot of anesthesia on the gums of affected teeth and remove the infected pulp area. Subsequently he would insert a special paste to close the gap to prevent further infection. After few days a fresh crown would be placed on top of the filling to keep it intact.
- For some people affected tooth would be removed if the inner area is completely decayed teeth. Both root canal and removal of teeth can be done in office sitting and it takes only less than half-an-hour for the procedure.
Toothache Medications :
Antibiotics are prescribed in case of infection along with painkillers like Ibuprofen. Antibiotics are necessary for managing inflammation due to infection and have to be taken even after tooth extraction. You can contact your local physician if toothache is due to referred causes like sinusitis or ear-infection or TMJ disorders who can treat you suitably.
Follow Up :
You need to make regular visits to the dental clinic as per the schedule of your appointment. Delaying and postponing the visit can invite fresh problem or worsen the existing problem.
- For getting quick relief from toothache you can make use of gargling the solution of salt mixed in lukewarm water. This solution can be effective even for bacterial infection and tooth decay.
- Cotton ball soaked in clove oil can give you relief from pain.
- Over the counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil can be taken for couple of days to manage pain until you arrange for dental appointment.
- Children below 12 years should not be given Aspirin.
- Eat soft blanch diet and avoid taking very hot or very cold drinks since it may worsen the pain.
- Remember one thing. Any kind of home remedy is not the total solution for toothache. It can help in reducing the pain until your date of appointment.
How To Prevent Toothache ?
- You can avoid and prevent any sort of tooth pain if you could maintain good dental hygiene.
- Brush your teeth twice a day and do regular flossing. Use the same toothpaste and do not keep on changing the paste. Use any toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Reduce the sugar items and drinks that contain lot of sugar. Sugar and starch particles would get deposited on the gaps on which bacteria would grow causing tooth decay and infection. Ensure that you are brushing your teeth properly to remove any food particles in the gap.
- Ensure you are rinsing your teeth with mouthwash daily before going to bed. You can use water jets for removing small particles.
- Quit smoking.
- In case you are wearing crown or dentures keep them clean.
- Always wear dental guard when you are involved in sports activities.
- And finally make regular visits to your dentist. (Once in every 6 months).