Toothache is caused when nerve endings in the root of a tooth are irritated. Toothache or tooth pain can also occur as a result of tooth extraction. Pain originates from other regions, radiating to the jaw, thus causing toothache. The common areas of pain origination include ear pain, jaw joint and occasional heart problems.
Causes of Toothache
Toothache is caused when the tooth pulp gets inflamed. The pulp contains nerves which are very sensitive to pain. This inflammation of the pulp is caused by dental caries, infection and trauma. Pain in the jaw also causes toothache.
Symptoms of Toothache
Toothache and jaw pain go side by side and are the most common complaints. The pain may originate from severe pressure, or cold or hot stimuli and stays for more than 15 seconds after the stimulus. The severity of the pain increases with the increase in inflammation and radiates to the ear, jaw and the cheek.
The other signs and symptoms include:
- Pain when chewing
- Cold or hot sensitivity
- Bleeding from gums or tooth
- Swelling of the jaw or around the tooth
- Trauma to the area
These toothache signs and symptoms are at times associated with gum disease or tooth decay.
A toothache may sometimes be confused with other sources of pain in the face. Ear pain, throat pain, sinusitis, injury to jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) cannot be differentiated with toothache. Pain can be radiated along the nerve casing pain in the tooth. This source of pain can only be diagnosed by the dentist.
Exams and Tests for Toothaches
A physical examination and medical history will usually indicate the right diagnosis for a toothache. In some cases, Panorex views (panoramic X-rays of the teeth and jaw) are taken. Even ECG tracings of the heart will help the doctor in diagnosing the cause for toothache. If the cause for toothache is other than dental or jaw problem, then the doctor will prescribe drugs directed at the condition. In case of severe toothache, you may be referred to a dentist for further treatment.
Treatment for Toothache
Home Treatment for Toothaches
- Medications – Over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen can be used. However, consulting the dentist before taking these medicines is suggestible.
- Avoid cold/hot foods – Avoid foods that are too cold or hot as they increase the pain intensity.
- Clove oil – Soak cotton ball in clove oil and keep the cotton ball in between the teeth. This gives a very good amount of relief.
Home Treatment for Jaw Pain
- Aspirin can be helpful for joint problems in adults
- Acetaminophen can be useful for teenagers and children
- If actions like yawning or taking a large bite of food intensify the pain, then you need to consult a dentist for proper treatment.
In many cases, home treatments mentioned above will be helpful in abating the pain. If the pain is severe and is prolonging, the dentist may try an injection around the tooth for controlling the pain. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is swelling in the gums or face associated with fever.
Teeth pulling, fillings or other techniques may be done as necessary. For primary teeth, tooth extraction can be the best procedure. For permanent teeth, only if problem is too severe and unable to bear, then crown and root canal procedures are performed.
Antibiotics are prescribed if swelling in the jaw or fever is present. Other procedures may be performed in later stages, with pain and infection being cared immediately with antibiotics.
If teeth or jaw are not the causes for toothache and some other causes are responsible, then dentist may treat the condition accordingly.
Care / Prevention of Toothache
Maintain a well balanced diet – Watch what you eat as bacteria can very well survive on sugar and starch foods which they need in order to enter through the teeth enamel. Brush or clean your teeth especially after eating these foods or else end your meal with foods with roughage like salad or apple.
Oral hygiene – Maintain a good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, professional cleaning every 6 months and regular dental checkups. Dental X-rays are needed every 3 – 5 years for identifying teeth problems.
Fluoride treatments – Fluoride is very effective in preventing tooth decay. It is a natural substance found in water supplies and vegetables. Fluoride supplements are good for children younger than 10 years. Topical fluoride, which includes fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes, is also considered for protecting the teeth.
Wear protective guards – Wear a dental guard or headgear while playing sports to help prevent any injury.
Protect your dentures – Keep your dentures or bridge clean. Though all your teeth are not original, you may prevent new teeth problems by protecting them.
Quit smoking – Avoid smoking and chewing any tobacco related products. These habits may make toothache condition worse.