Tooth pain – either mild or severe – is hard to ignore. The causes of toothache are many; the primary being tooth decay, cavities or infection. Toothache can also be a result of tooth extraction, which can cause a great deal of discomfort. However, sometimes it is not possible to get treatment for a toothache right away, especially at night. If a toothache lasts for more than 2 days and doesn’t go away even when you take painkillers, then it warrants a visit to the dentist.
In the below article, we’ll look at the different symptoms and causes of toothache along with toothache solutions and how to prevent it.
A] Toothache Symptoms
The pain from a toothache can radiate either from in or around a tooth. Minor toothaches can be caused due to temporary gum irritation, whereas severe toothaches can be a result of infection or injury that has to be treated by a dentist. Toothaches are caused when the pulp nerves inside your tooth are irritated or infected by bacteria. The pulp nerve – which is filled with tissues, blood and nerves – are quite sensitive and when they get inflamed, it can lead to severe tooth pain.
Some of the symptoms of toothache are:
- Constant sharp and throbbing pain in and around the tooth, especially when pressure is applied to the affected tooth.
- Swelling around the affected tooth or in your face and cheek.
- Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting.
- Pain in the mouth & jaw as well as sore & bleeding gums which is a sign of gum disease.
- Teeth sensitivity i.e. tooth pain when drinking hot/cold beverages.
- Persistent bad breath and foul-smelling and foul-tasting discharge if the abscess ruptures.
- Dry mouth, difficulty in breathing or swallowing. Also, fever and headache.
B] What Are the Causes of Toothache?
While toothaches are not life-threatening, they can be a sign of serious medical conditions that require immediate treatment. By understanding the underlying cause of a toothache, you’d be able to seek the right toothache treatment. Thus, here are some common causes of toothache and their respective symptoms.
- Tooth Decay and Cavities: Tooth decay damages your tooth enamel – the outer, hard layer of your teeth. This is caused due to the plaque that forms on your teeth when you eat foods and drinks that contain sugar. This debris is turned into acids by the bacteria in your mouth, and the acids attack the tooth enamel causing cavities.
Severe tooth decay can affect the outer layer (enamel) as well as the inner layer (dentin) of your teeth and the symptoms include toothache, sensitive teeth, holes in your teeth, pain when you bite down on the affected tooth and black/brown tooth stains. Learn more about tooth decay and cavities treatment.
- Abscess Tooth: A pocket of pus that forms around the root of an infected tooth is called an abscess. It is caused by a deep cavity or tooth decay, cracked tooth or gum disease. The infection from an abscessed tooth if not treated can spread beyond the neck, jaw, head, or other body parts and lead to serious problems. The symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, gum redness, teeth sensitivity, bad mouth odour, and trouble chewing, swallowing and breathing.
- Cracked/Damaged/Broken Teeth: This is another cause of toothache. Over time, cavities can make the tooth enamel brittle, which could lead to cracked/damaged teeth. Likewise, a broken tooth can also cause pain if the tooth dentin and nerves are exposed. Also, a broken tooth may have sharp edges that may cut your tongue and cheek. Thus, this needs to be treated to alleviate tooth pain and avoid further damage or complications.
- Gum Disease: Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused due to bacterial growth in your mouth and can lead to tooth loss if not treated. Periodontal disease is caused by poor oral hygiene, illness, medications or hormonal changes. Its symptoms include receding gums, persistent bad breath, bleeding during/after brushing, loose/shifting teeth, among others. Click here to learn more about periodontal examination.
- Impacted Wisdom Tooth: Impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to tooth pain as they are more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease. They don’t always have symptoms, but if infected, it can cause jaw pain, red/swollen gums, bad breath, bleeding gums, etc. Go here for details on wisdom tooth extraction services.
C] Toothache Solutions
The most obvious solution for a toothache is to visit a dentist at the earliest. However, if you can’t go to the dentist right away, then you can alleviate tooth pain by taking a painkiller and eating soft foods like yoghurt or scrambled eggs. Avoid smoking as it can worsen the pain. Also, avoid foods that are extremely sweet/spicy, hot and cold.
At the first opportunity, book an appointment with the dentist as the earlier the dental problem is treated, the much fewer chances of you losing your teeth. Plus, it eliminates any further complications.
To treat tooth pain, the dentist will:
- Review your medical history and conduct an examination.
- Ask specific questions: when did the pain start, which part is paining, and how severe it is.
- Examine the gums, teeth and surrounding areas.
- A dental x-ray and other tests may be recommended to determine the exact cause.
- Based on the cause, the dentist will outline treatment options. For example, cavities may need fillings while a tooth nerve infection may require root canal treatment.
Also, depending on the cause and seriousness of the dental problem, the dentist may provide immediate treatment. Or he may ask you to wait for a few days and in the meantime, prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort.
D] How to Prevent Toothaches?
- The best way to prevent toothache is to brush twice a day and floss at least once. Read here to learn more about how to brush your teeth.
- Eating healthy can also help maintain your oral and dental health. This means avoiding foods such as soda, candies and other junk foods and eating more green veggies, fruits, almonds, nuts, among others. Check out this infographic on the best and worst foods for your teeth.
- Smoking can also affect your teeth and cause discolouration, plaque and gum diseases. Thus, it is best to limit or quit smoking altogether. Know more about how smoking and dental health is related.
- Lastly, have regular dental check-ups at least twice a month to prevent any kind of dental issues. Learn more about the importance of visiting the dentist every 6 months.
#Emergency Dental Care
As a Sunshine Coast dentist, we make available emergency after-hours dental care services to the residents of the Sunshine Coast. Through our after hour emergency service helpline, we transfer the calls received to qualified dentists, who’ll provide timely advice to alleviate dental pain until you can make an appointment with your dentist. The common dental emergencies include toothache, broken fillings, dental abscess, chipped tooth, knocked-out tooth, painful ulcers, among others. Thus, if you need the aid of an after hours emergency dentist, then don’t hesitate to call on (07) 54444308 A/H service number.
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