Toothache is a pain that you feel in your mouth and can be in or around your tooth or gums. It is a sign that something is wrong and attention is needed. Sometimes, it can also be referred pain ie caused by a problem somewhere else in your body eg an impending heart attack which can be life-threatening.
You should not ignore toothaches especially if caused by tooth decay which will get worse if left untreated. Seek help as soon as possible.
How do toothaches feel?
Toothache pain can present in various forms:
- range from mild to severe
- intermittent to constant
- sharp pain when biting or chewing food
- sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks
- worse at night when lying down during sleep
- may be accompanied by swelling of the gums or cheeks
- may have fever and headaches
The most common reason for toothaches is tooth decay. This occurs when bacteria attack the enamel of your tooth and eventually extends to the underlying dentine and pulp where there are millions of nerves. It can lead to severe pain and an abscess can form which is an infection of the pulp inside your tooth. Left unchecked, an abscess can cause swelling of your face and in rare cases, spread to your brain which can be life-threatening.
Toothaches can also be caused by an impacted wisdom tooth that is unable to erupt properly and remains jammed against bone, gum or an adjacent tooth.
Other common causes of toothache include:
- Broken fillings
- Cracked tooth
- Gum diseases
This is a toothache that originates from other sources such as:
Sinusitis – when your sinuses become inflamed due to viral, bacterial or fungal infection. As the roots of the upper teeth are close to the sinuses, sinusitis can cause discomfort in your upper teeth
Heart attack – because the nerves of the teeth and heart are connected, a toothache especially on your left side can be a warning of an impending heart attack
Trigeminal neuralgia – this is a condition affecting the trigeminal nerves that supplies the side of your head. When inflamed or irritated, the pain can feel like it is coming from your teeth.
Toothaches usually require professional treatment but in the meantime, you can try the following for temporary relief until you get to see a dentist
- you may take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication such as panadol
- avoid taking food or drinks with extreme hot or cold temperatures
- avoid biting on that side of the mouth where the toothache is
- place an ice pack on your cheek to reduce swelling and the pain
See Your Dentist
Since most causes of toothache is dental in nature, you may contact us to make an appointment as soon as possible.
Our dentist will do the following:
- Check your teeth thoroughly to ascertain the exact cause of your toothache. We may take radiographs in order to see clearly areas that are not visible to the eyes.
- We will then explain in detail the reason for the condition and treatment options.
- In most cases, we will be able to get immediate pain relief so that you can feel comfortable again. The treatment depends on the cause. If it is a broken filling, we can replace it with a new one. If there is an abscess with pus, we will drain it. If there is an impacted wisdom tooth, we will arrange to remove it. In some cases, root canal treatment (which is painless) may be needed.
If necessary, we will refer you to medical colleagues if we think your toothache could be of medical causes such as sinusitis or trigeminal neuralgia.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent toothaches. Brush gently and floss your teeth twice a day to reduce the risk of dental decay.
Reducing sugar in your diet is not only good for your health but decreases the chances of dental decay, too.
If you grind your teeth at night, inform your dentist and he will make you a customised nightguard to protect the teeth from cracks and wear.
Schedule an Appointment
Visit your dentist every six months for a regular check-up and professional cleaning to keep tooth decay and infections at bay.