Understanding Your Toothache & Getting It Under Control
There are many reasons for toothaches, and all of them can be treated in some way. While the most common cause of a painful and annoying toothache is a cavity, gum disease also causes toothaches, and so do other problems with the mouth and the jaw.
It’s absolutely essential that you have a toothache checked as soon as you discover it because there are many things that can cause it, including clenching, a jaw disorder called TMJ or other conditions in your head including sinus pressure. Many of these problems require professional treatment.
If you have a toothache, you may experience the following symptoms:
- a constant, sharp or throbbing pain, sometimes only when pressure is applied
- swelling of the gums or the face around the tooth
- a fever
- a generalized headache
- bad-tasting drainage from around the tooth.
You may get some relieve from Motrin, Advil or another over-the-counter pain reliever. Just remember to take that the medicine as often as directed on the package and not to take more than the maximum dosage.
Pregnancy can complicate dental treatment, but dental work that can’t wait until after delivery is usually safe during the second trimester.
What causes a toothache?
A toothache can be caused by any of the following conditions or a combination of two or more:
- a dental cavity
- an abscess
- cracked tooth syndrome
- gum disease
- a damaged filling
- repetitive motion of the jaw from chewing or grinding
- TMJ, a jaw condition
Is it necessary to see a dentist about a toothache?
Yes, in most cases that’s the only way to get it to go away. You need to see a dentist for a toothache you’ve had for more than day or two, when the pain is severe or if you have an earache, fever or additional pain when you try to widely open your mouth.
The dentist can determine the cause, take action to prevent spread of any infection or other problems and work on a cure. If an infection spreads to other parts of the skull or face, you have a severe condition that could require extensive treatment.
To treat the toothache the dentist, as always, will take a complete medical history first and examine you. Once the dentist understand how the pain started, how long it has persisted and some other key facts, the dentist will likely take an x-ray and may perform other tests on the mouth, gums, jaws, throat or sinuses depending on what direction the symptoms lead.
What kinds of toothache treatments are available?
The exact treatment is determined by the diagnosis of the cause. If it’s a cavity, a filling may be all that’s needed, but a root canal or even extraction may be the best course of action if the tooth is badly damaged or there is infection of the nerve in the tooth. If bacteria are present inside the tooth, antibiotics may be prescribed along with other actions to clear up the infection before any dental work is done. In some cases, using a cold laser for phototherapy can reduce pain and decrease inflammation. The goal of all treatments is to stabilize and ultimately repair the condition — and bring the pain to an end.
Can toothaches be prevented?
Yes, in some cases. Many are the result of decay, and good oral hygiene is the best preventative practice. That means brushing, flossing and more. The best toothpaste is one you make yourself, and cleaning your teeth thoroughly means using ozone-infused water to eliminate bacteria. See your dentist every six months for a cleaning and evaluation too. This can help spot problems before they turn into toothaches.
Whatever the cause and whatever the underlying problem, a toothache can be treated — and you can get on with your life.
Call (619) 640-5100.