What is tooth pain or toothache?
Toothache usually refers to pain in and around your teeth and jaws. It is usually caused by the decay of the tooth. The pain can be mild or severe. You may feel light pain or throbbing tooth pain which can start suddenly. Tooth pain at night can get worse especially when you are lying down. It can many times be difficult to decide where exactly you are feeling the pain. The upper teeth pain may feel like it is coming from the small sinuses, air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones. When a lower tooth is affected the pain seems to be coming from the ear. The area of your jaw closer to the affected area may also be sore or tender to the touch.
Toothache can be because of a dental issue that requires tooth pain treatment to get rid of any throbbing tooth pain. The nerves inside the teeth are your body’s most sensitive leading to excruciating pain when infected with bacteria or inflamed.
Causes of a Toothache
Toothache usually occurs when the innermost layer of the tooth(dental pulp) is inflamed. The dental pulp is made of millions of sensitive nerves and blood vessels.
This inflammation can be caused due to multiple reasons :
1) Tooth decay - This can be due to bacteria which leads to holes(cavities) in the hard surface of the tooth.
2) A cracked tooth - A cracked tooth may lead to pain or discomfort. Cracks are sometimes so small that you can’t see them with the naked eye.
3) Periapical abscess - a collection of pus at the end of the tooth caused by a bacterial infection.
4) Receding gums - sometimes the gums shrink or contract revealing the softer and more sensitive part of the tooth root.
5) Damaged filling - If a dental filling is damaged ie broken or loose then the tooth may be exposed to decay and infection.
6) Teeth grinding or bruxism - If grinding or clenching your teeth is causing pain then the doctor may recommend a mouth guard to prevent any severe tooth pain from grinding.
Several other conditions can cause pain similar to tooth pain despite the pulp not getting affected.
1) Periodontal abscess - a collection of pus in the gums caused by a bacterial infection.
2) Ulcers on gums
3) Sore or swollen gums around a tooth that’s breaking through
4) Sinusitis - causes pain around the upper jaw.
5) An injury to the temporomandibular jaw - the jaw that attaches to the skull.
Apart from adults, babies may also experience discomfort when their teeth start to develop, also known as teething.
Tooth pain Treatment
A toothache can either be mild or severe tooth pain and its important to know the root cause of the pain before you try to relieve any pain, discomfort or symptoms. A regular salt water rinse and cold compress can help relieve temporary pain but in case of severe tooth pain its best to visit a dentist.
If your symptoms persist for more than a day or two, then its important that you visit a dentist. In case you are breastfeeding or pregnant you must consult a dentist even before a salt water rinse and cold compress.
Tooth pain treatment will severely depend on the root cause of the tooth pain. For example, if a cavity is the cause of tooth ache then the dentist might fill the cavity or extract the tooth if found necessary. If there is an infection in any of the nerves surrounding your teeth then the doctor might recommend a root canal to remove and replace the infected pulp.
You must see a dentist in case of following -
1) If you have a severe tooth pain and it lasts for more than two days
2) If there is pus or any bacterial infection in teeth or surrounding regions
3) If you have fever or experience pain when opening your mouth wide
4) If you experience pain when you bite.
5) If your cheek or jaw is swollen
Tooth pain Prevention
One can prevent tooth pain by following a good oral hygiene routine. Make sure you brush your teeth twice in the day. Use a mouthwash daily and floss to prevent food from getting in between the spaces and prevent tooth decay. In addition to these, make sure you visit a dentist once every six months. Reduce your consumption of fast food, junk food, soda and alcohol. Avoid smoking and follow a good dental routine to avoid tooth pain.
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Homemade tooth pain remedies
For any minor irritation or pain, certain home tooth pain remedies can provide relief. In case of persistent pain over a few days it's important to visit a dentist.
1) Use a salt water rinse. Take some warm water, add 1-2 teaspoons salt in it and rinse your mouth with it. Salt water is a natural disinfectant and can help remove any debris stuck in between teeth.
2) Cold compress - Use some ice wrapped with a towel to relieve the pain. When you apply a cold compress it causes the blood vessels in the narby area to constrict thus relieving pain.
3) Garlic has antibacterial properties and can be used to kill bacteria that causes dental plaque and also relieve throbbing tooth pain. You can crush a clove of garlic, make it into a paste and apply it to the affected area for best results.
4) Clove - Clove have been used to treat toothaches throughout history. It can reduce pain and inflammation. Cloves contain eugenol which is a natural antiseptic.
If your tooth pain is severe then its important for you to see a dentist and not rely just on these tooth pain remedies. Your dentist must do an examination to treat it properly. Till you visit a dentist you may use a pain reliever over the counter medicine.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do I know if my toothache is worse?
If your toothache is causing extreme pain and has been persistent for more than 2-3 days then you must see a dentist. If you have fever along with throbbing tooth pain or your face and mouth is swollen then you must approach for medical help.
2) How can I prevent toothache?
A good oral care routine is the best way to prevent toothache. Make sure you brush your teeth twice, use a mouthwash and floss daily. Make sure you avoid soda, alcohol and junk. All of this may lead to cavities resulting in toothache. You can also use a sensitivity powder such as this one if you wish to relieve yourself from teeth sensitivity and pain.
3) Why do I feel severe tooth pain at night?
Toothaches can be extremely painful in the day and even more during the night. This is because the blood rushes to the head while you are asleep or lying down. The blood in that area can increase pain and pressure caused due to the toothache. You can sleeping in an elevated position to avoid severe tooth pain at night.
While a toothache can be due to multiple reasons, one can use certain tooth pain remedies to prevent it and to relieve it. If it gets any worse, its important to visit a dentist as they will be able to figure out the root cause of the pain and then address it accordingly.