A toothache is one of the tremendous types of pain a person can feel. When you experience it, it is an indication that there is something wrong with your gums or tooth. While toothaches are often not life-threatening, they usually require immediate medical attention as it can be a sign of other serious conditions.
Tooth pain can range from being mild to severe, and it may be persistent or irregular. Once it attacks, you may feel:
- pulsing pain or inflammation
- fever and headache
- tenderness around the tooth and gums
- sharp pain when you touch the affected area or when you bite down
- bad taste in the mouth
- sensitivity to cold or hot beverages and food
- shock-like or burning pain
Suffering from intense and persistent pain may indicate that you have tooth damage, such as a cavity or tooth decay. Pulsing pain can also occur due to an infection in the tooth and the gums that surround it.
Pulpitis is the infection or inflammation of the tooth. At the core of the tooth lies a soft connective tissue regarded as the dental pulp. It contains tissues, blood vessels, and nerves.
Cracks and cavities allow air and germs to reach inside the tooth. Such a scenario irritates and infects the extremely sensitive dental pulp. Thus, resulting in throbbing and lasting toothache.
The dental pulp can become infected and inflamed due to these reasons:
- broken or loose fillings
- periapical pus or abscess resulting from bacterial infection
- receding gums, wherein gums contracts or shrinks and exposes the sensitive areas of the tooth
- tooth decay, which results in holes developing on the tooth’s enamel
- a cracked tooth that exposes the dental pulp
While most toothaches occur when the dental pulp gets affected, there are also an array of other conditions which may incur pain toothache-like, such as:
Several different conditions can cause pain similar to toothache, even though the pulp isn’t affected. These include:
- gum ulcers
- swollen gums when a new tooth breaks through, like that of the wisdom tooth
- injury on the jaw joint
- gum abscess brought by a bacterial infection
- sinusitis, which can often bring pain to the upper jaw.
Various treatments can be done to treat toothaches. Each approach depends mainly on the underlying cause of the pain.
If the dental pulp is inflamed and infected, your dentist will facilitate a root canal treatment. The dental pulp will be removed and replaced with a filling, which acts as a sealant to avoid any reinfection.
If the pain is brought by tooth decay, your dentist will take off the decayed area and replace it again with filling. If the filling then loosens and breaks through time, a new filling will be placed.
However, if the damage is far beyond repair, your tooth must be removed through extraction.
But, while there are procedures available to treat toothaches and their underlying cause, the best way to avoid ‘cure’ them is by never having them at all. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and visit your dentist for examination and cleanings at least twice a year.
If you still get a toothache, there are ways to relieve the pain if you cannot visit your dentist right away, such as:
- rinsing your mouth with warm water with salt
- applying a cold compress to your cheek or jaw
- gently flossing to remove any food debris or plaque
- taking over-the-counter painkillers
- using home remedies, like clove oil, oregano oil, or ginger to relieve or numb the pain