A toothache is any pain in or around a tooth. There are many causes for toothaches, which can be a sign of a variety of complications and ailments. From tooth grinding to infection, it’s important to visit a dentist near you when you have a toothache. You always want to find out the real reason for the tooth pain right away.
Common Causes of Toothaches
Below are some of the most common causes of toothaches.
This can be an infection around the tooth, say in the gums, or within the tooth itself.
Tooth decay is the leading cause of toothaches and results in dental cavities. These can be treated with fillings to alleviate the problem.
Gingivitis, or gum disease, can cause swelling and abscesses around the base of the tooth that causes pain when biting and chewing. Left untreated, this can develop into periodontitis, where bacteria starts to eat away at the bone around a tooth. It’s also possible that the infection can get into the soft pulp of the inner tooth, which may require a root canal.
Clenching and grinding teeth can result in toothache, as the teeth are placed under constant stress. People who wake up with toothaches may find that they’re grinding their teeth at night when they sleep. Some people also clench and grind their jaws during the day without even realizing it, as it becomes a subconscious, anxious behavior.
Damage to the Tooth
Chips, cracks, and breaks in the teeth will often result in a toothache. Some cracks can be very fine, and difficult to spot with the naked eye. A trip to the dentist will help to identify any damage to the tooth and begin a treatment plan to repair it.
Tooth fillings, veneers, crowns, inlays and Onlays that have been used to restore a tooth can, ironically, end up hurting the tooth. This can be the case if the restoration has become loose or damaged.
It’s not uncommon for tooth fillings to become loose after many years. When this occurs, every time you bite or chew using the filled tooth, the filling drives down into the enamel. In these cases, it’s important to have the filling replaced. Older metal amalgam fillings can even cause the tooth to crack if they’re loose.
Sometimes pain in your tooth doesn’t actually have anything to do with your teeth — or even your mouth. Sinus infections and congestion can put pressure on nerves that feel a lot like a toothache.
When Should You See a Dentist For Toothache?
Almost any time you have a pain in your tooth, it’s best to visit a dentist to get examined and find out the root cause. A good rule of thumb is that you should seek a dentist immediately for toothache that:
- Has lasted more than 1-2 days
- Is severe
- Is accompanied by fever, earache, or pain when opening your mouth
These can all classify as dental emergencies. If your dentist offers emergency dental services, you’ll be able to book an appointment ASAP to get examined and treated.
Potential Treatments for Toothache
How toothache is treated depends on the underlying cause.
- Infections: Fillings for tooth decay, proper oral hygiene for gingivitis, deep cleans for periodontitis, and root canals for inner-tooth infections.
- Grinding: A variety of treatment methods, from behavioral therapy through to specially made splints to prevent your teeth touching while you sleep.
- Damage to the tooth: Veneers, crowns, inlays and onlays.
- Problems with restorations: Revise and fix the restoration.
Common in-home remedies for dealing with a toothache
- Using a cold pack- A compressed cold pack is a remedy that can help with swelling. It can also help with the pain. It is recommended to use a compressed cold pack for 20 minutes on the location of the tooth pain - then a 20-minute rest. One may repeat this 20 minutes on and off for a period of 24 hours or until one can get in to see their local dentist. This remedy can be most effective if the tooth pain is a result of trauma or swollen gums. A compressed ice pack will help slow down blood flow to the area of trauma. This will assist in numbing the pain as well.
- Cloves- One can soak a clove in gauze or cotton ball to the area affected by the toothache. A clove is a spice that contains a natural chemical that acts as an anesthetic. Additionally, cloves have some antibacterial traits that can fight against tooth and gum infections.
- Warm salt water rinse- When one rinses their mouth with a warm salt water rinse, it can help to dislodge debris from in between teeth & soothe the area. Saltwater rinse can also help with swelling and relieve pain. Steps to make the saltwater rinse are: dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Once the salt is dissolved, swish around in the mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. (Important note: if you’ve had a recent oral surgery procedure it is important to not use pressure when spitting, but let the water just run out of your mouth).
How to Prevent Toothache
The leading cause of toothache is tooth decay and infections. The easiest way to prevent these is through proper oral hygiene — brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Adhering to recommended oral hygiene practices can actually help to prevent many, if not most, common oral concerns. If you are due for your periodic dental appointment, book it now.
When You Should See The Dentist
The above remedies are meant to act as temporary solutions before one can get into their local dentist near you. It is important to seek dental care if your toothache or symptoms last for more than 2 days. If your toothache worsens it is important to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible.