A toothache, also known as odontalgia, is pain that occurs from the bone structures and gum surrounding the tooth or it comes from the tooth itself. You can feel it in many different ways – it can be in the form of a constant ache that does not go away, or it can come and go. It can also be severe or mild. The pain can be worse at night when you’re lying down.
The toothache can be simulated by things such as pressure on the tooth while chewing, exposure to cold drinks, or temperature changes. In other cases, it can happen without any stimulation. You can feel the pain in the lower or upper teeth. When it’s from the upper teeth it may feel like it’s from the sinuses. Toothache from the lower teeth can sometimes feel like it’s coming from the ear.
While it can prevent you from going about your day, it is a way for the tooth to signal that you should seek care and attention from a dentist before it gets worse.
It is normal for a person to feel a little pain when a tooth is exposed to hot or cold and pressure. However, if the pain continues for longer than 15 seconds after the temperature or pressure disappears, it can indicate that you have a more serious problem. Symptoms of toothache that may lead you to seek dental care include:
- Swelling of the cheek or jaw or around the tooth
- Headache or fever
- Discharge or bleeding from the gums or around a tooth
- Tooth pain that can be constant, sharp, or throbbing. In some cases, the pain only happens when pressure is put on the tooth
- Sensitivity to cold or hot liquids and air
- An infected tooth that causes foul-tasting drainage
You need to make a difference between pain that comes from the tooth and pain that comes from other parts of the face. Often, a toothache can be confused with throat or ear pain, trauma to the temporomandibular joint or sinusitis. This is known as referred pain when the pain from another place is passed along the nerve and is felt in the tooth or the jaw. A dentist check-up is appropriate in order to find the source of the pain.
What Causes a Toothache?
Trauma or injury can cause toothache. Injury is often a result of tooth decay. When tooth decay is caused by bacteria, the nerves in your teeth can be exposed that results in pain. The tooth can also be exposed if you lose a filling.
Another reason for toothache is jaw or mouth injury which can occur from trauma to the facial area.
A pocket of pus in the tooth, also known as a dental abscess, can be the explanation for toothache.
Wisdom tooth breaking through the gums and coming in can cause pressure against other teeth thus resulting in pain. Debris stuck in your teeth can also cause pressure.
Some other reasons for toothache may be clenching or grinding your teeth at night, gum diseases like periodontal disease or gingivitis, drainage from sinus infections and temporomandibular joint disorders.
You can try the following methods to relieve the pain:
- Over the counter medication. Over the counter medication like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help to reduce mild toothache. You should always take the recommended dosage on the packaging.
- Elevation. Pain and inflammation can be caused by pooling blood in the head. Elevating your head with some extra pillows helps some people to ease the pain when going to bed.
- A rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Diluting hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water, and then swishing it in your mouth and puking it out can help in reducing the symptoms of periodontitis and plaque.
- A rinse with saltwater. Another common remedy for toothache is saltwater. Due to the fact it’s an antibacterial agent, it can protect teeth that are damaged from infection.
- Cold compress. Wrapping ice in a towel and applying it to the side of your jaw or face that hurts makes the blood vessels in that area constrict and reduces the pain.
- Clove oil. Clove oil is a home remedy that numbs the pain. You need to soak a cotton ball in clove oil and dab it against the gums and teeth or rub it directly on the area.
Depending on the cause, the treatment for a toothache can vary. For swelling of the jaw or a fewer, an antibiotic may be prescribed. If the toothache is caused by a cavity, the dentist will extract the tooth or feel the cavity. If the tooth nerve is infected, a root canal might be needed.
When to See Your Dentist
You should make an appointment at your dentist if:
- The toothache is severe
- If the toothache comes with other signs of infection
- You have pain when opening your mouth, an earache, or a fever
- When the pain is caused by a decaying or lost tooth
- The toothache lasted more than 1 or 2 days
Ignoring the signs of a toothache can lead to much more serious problems, such as gum disease, abscesses, and even tooth loss. If you’re living in Ocala or surrounding book an appointment or visit our clinic where our trained and professional staff will tend to all your oral needs.
Q: What should I do if the pain is getting worse?
If the pain doesn’t seem so bad and you wait to treat the toothache, and then you notice it’s getting worse, then the thing that is causing the pain is getting worse also. In this case, you should not hesitate to seek treatment.
Q: Is it okay to take over the counter medication for a toothache?
Most dentists recommend taking pain medication unless a physician has advised you not to take over the counter pain relievers.
Q: How do I prevent toothache?
Q: How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?
You should avoid hard and sugar-rich food which will cause the build-up of tartar, you should consume plenty of raw vegetables and easily digestible foods, and regularly practice oral rinsing, proper tooth brushing, and flossing.