Toothaches can affect anyone at any time. From young children to older people, no one is safe from tooth pain which is most often caused by poor oral health or wisdom teeth.
What exactly is tooth pain?
Dental pain can manifest as a sharp, throbbing or constant pain in the tooth and gum area.
What are the causes of toothache?
An infected tooth
A bacterial infection in the tooth or gum tissue surrounding the tooth can cause severe pain.
This infection is almost always caused by dental decay, which in turn, is a result of poor dental care. Improper brushing of teeth can result in the growth of bacteria which eats away at the dental enamel, creating a space on the surface of the tooth that allows the bacteria to infect the nerve or pulp inside your tooth.
In its early stages, this infection is called caries, and it creates cavities when it progresses.
Another reason for the infection can be the gap created by a cracked tooth which can give bacteria access to the sensitive inner layers of the tooth.
Inflammation of the surrounding gum
In spite of regular brushing, plaque forms on teeth naturally. A sticky film of bacteria on the teeth is called plaque, which, if not cleaned properly, can produce a type of acid that causes gum disease, known as gingivitis.
When left untreated, plaque can reach under the gum tissue to the root of the tooth and infect the jaw bone, causing periodontal disease.
Dental disease can cause the loss of teeth when the root of the tooth has become so weak that it can no longer hold the tooth in place.
Accidents, sports injuries, and biting into something hard can break off a portion of a tooth or the entire tooth. Dental injury causes intense pain that requires immediate medical attention.
There are times that pain originating in a different part of the body can be felt as toothache.
Migraines, headaches, and pain in the sinus, jaw, ear or even the chest can radiate away from the place of origin and manifest as sharp pain in the oral cavity. This type of pain is called referred pain.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause intense pain and may require urgent dental treatment to fix. This problem arises when wisdom teeth don’t have space to erupt, or are growing at an abnormal angle.
In most cases, you will need to see a dentist for wisdom teeth removal.
The roots of the upper teeth lie very close to the sinus cavity, which is why pain arising from an infected sinus may seem like a toothache.
Allergens entering a person’s nasal cavity can find their way to the sinus, causing them to swell and put pressure on a tooth, making it hurt.
Bruxism (Grinding of teeth)
Some people grind their teeth in their sleep or may be doing it unconsciously while going about their day-to-day activities. Over the years, the teeth grinding wears away the enamel of the teeth, exposing the dental pulp, which is then susceptible to infections.
Damaged filling or crown
The dental filling used to fill a cavity or to repair a tooth fracture can get displaced or fall out completely. The exposed inner tooth is prone to sensitivity, making any other existing dental conditions worse, and necessitating an emergency visit to the dentist.
How does a toothache manifest?
Dental pain or pain in the jaws
Dental problems usually manifest in the form of pain in the teeth or jaws. Remember, tooth decay or a broken tooth could be causing pain.
Inflammation of the gum
Gum tissue can be infected due to reasons mentioned earlier in this article. Seek medical treatment if you have tender, swollen or bleeding gums or notice a discharge from pockets formed just beneath the gum.
Treatments for toothache
Home remedies for toothaches can help alleviate discomfort until a visit to the dentist.
People suffering from toothaches can place a clove between their teeth. It contains eugenol, which is a natural anesthetic and antiseptic. You can also soak a cotton ball in clove oil and place it between your teeth.
Garlic contains allicin, another mild natural antibiotic. Simply make a paste of it and rub it gently along the affected tooth.
Mix food-grade hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water. Rub the paste along the aching tooth, its antiseptic properties should help alleviate pain.
Applying something cold to the cheek just along the affected area will constrict blood vessels and numb nerve endings, providing relief from pain.
Common pain medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin work well to relieve pain.
When you experience a toothache, no matter the cause, your first goal -understandably- is to get immediate relief from the toothache, rather than think about its cause.
While over-the-counter topical numbing cream and painkillers can help in the short term, the most effective way to really cure a toothache is by seeking care from a dental professional.
How can we help?
Gordon Family Dental has a combined experience of over 40 years providing emergency dentistry services in Gordon, NSW.
We believe the best dental care in Gordon should be available to everyone, and we work with SuperCare to facilitate affordable treatment for a range of dental treatments, including emergency dental services.
Contact us to book an online appointment or call us on (02) 9159 6163.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Gingivitis – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
Cleveland Clinic – Toothache: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention
Periodontitis – Mouth and Dental Disorders – Merck Manuals Consumer Version
WebMD – Good Dental Habits