A toothache is a pain in or around a tooth. Minor toothaches can come from a temporary gum irritation which may be treated at home. More serious toothaches are caused by dental and mouth problems that are more difficult and will need to be treated by a dentist.
Possible causes of toothache can include:
- Tooth decay
- Abscessed tooth
- A cracked or damaged tooth
- A loose or broken filling
- An infection – this often happens when a tooth (such as a wisdom tooth) has broken the skin, but does not have enough room to fully come through
- Problems with your braces
- Repetitive motions, such as chewing gum or grinding teeth
- Infected gums
Symptoms of a toothache may include:
- Tooth pain that may be sharp, throbbing, or constant. In some people, pain results only when pressure is applied to the tooth.
- Swelling around the tooth
- Fever or headache
- Foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth
When should I see a dentist about a toothache?
See your dentist as soon as possible about your toothache if:
- You have a toothache that lasts longer than 1 or 2 days
- Your toothache is severe
- You have a fever, earache, or pain upon opening your mouth wide
As with any teeth problems, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it's important to book an appointment at Prospect Street Dental Practice to see a dentist as soon as possible, rather than waiting for routine dental health review.
How will the dentist treat my toothache?
Your Prospect Street Dental Practice dentist will need to examine you, and possibly take x-rays, in order to identify the cause of your toothache. Once this has been identified, they will conduct any temporary treatment to relieve your pain and advise if further treatment is required to address the underlying issue.
Possible treatments may include:
- If a cavity is causing the toothache, your dentist will fill the cavity or take the tooth out, if necessary.
- A root canal (a procedure to remove and replace infected pulp with sealing material) may be needed if the cause of the toothache is an infection of the tooth's nerve. Bacteria that have worked their way into the inner space of the root of the tooth cause infection.
- An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling of the jaw.
- A small piece of food (like a popcorn hull) can get stuck under the gums causing an infection. In this instance, a deep cleaning may be performed or recommended followed by further periodontal (gum) therapy if necessary.
Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing once daily, rinsing once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing your Prospect Street Dental Practice dentist regularly for professional cleaning and reviews. In addition to these practices, eat foods low in sugar and ask your dentist about sealants and fluoride applications.
How do I treat a toothache at home?
For temporary relief of a toothache, the following can be followed at home:
- Avoid extremes of temperature, such as hot drinks or very cold foods like ice cream
- Avoid sugary or acidic foods, especially sweets or fizzy drinks, even diet ones, as these can aggravate the pain
- Eat soft foods, like yoghurt or scrambled eggs, and try to avoid chewing with the sore tooth
- Take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol
- Use an over-the-counter anaesthetic gel, for example Orajel, which you can buy in a pharmacy, to help relieve the pain
- Continue to brush and floss your teeth as thoroughly as possible, and rub toothpaste directly onto the sore tooth or area
- Rinse with warm saltwater. Salt water can loosen debris between your teeth, act as a disinfectant and reduce inflammation. Stir a ½ teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth thoroughly.
- Use mouthwash suitable for gum problems, such as Corsodyl or Peroxyl, from your local pharmacy
- Massage the gum around the tooth to help ease pain
- Use cloves or cotton wool to place clove oil over the painful tooth or area of the mouth. You can buy cloves in supermarkets
- Keep your head elevated at night. Lying down can increase blood pressure in the tooth and cause pain
- Keep the area cold by using a cool pack or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Apply this to your cheek. Don’t apply ice directly to the tooth as this can increase pain and damage the tissue
If you have any toothache of discomfort, contact Prospect Street Dental Practice in Reading as soon as possible. Give us a call on 0118 947 2517.