Dental pain or toothache is one of the most common symptoms which brings individuals to meet a dentist. It also makes a large component of dental emergencies. A multitude of causes underlie toothaches and almost everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives.
Causes of Toothache
- Tooth decay: cavities and dental caries are the most common cause of toothache
- Infection or abscess in the root of the tooth
- Trauma to the teeth
- Impacted teeth: When a tooth has trouble growing through the gums it can get stuck and cause pain
- Gum disease or Gingivitis: infection and inflammation of the gums
- Sensitive teeth: Exposure to heat or cold causes pain, this is generally due to disease of the roots of the teeth
- Sinus infection: This can present with pain in the upper mouth appearing as a toothache
Evaluation of Toothache
On presenting to a dentist, the cause of your toothache would be evaluated by the following
- Dental examination
- Imaging: a panoramic radiograph is an X-ray of the upper and lower jaw that can identify impacted teeth, fractures, and abscesses in the roots.
Treatment of Toothache
Prior to meeting a dentist, the following measures can be taken to relieve the pain.
- Rinse and clean the mouth with warm water.
- Gentle flossing can be attempted to remove food debris.
- A cold compress can be applied externally for pain following trauma.
- An over the counter pain killer can be taken.
- Avoid applying any medicines or creams directly over the tooth. Aspirin and other local medicines can cause the burning of the gums.
- Benzocaine, a local anesthetic can be applied lightly but carries a risk of getting absorbed into the bloodstream to cause methemoglobinemia. This decreases the oxygen carriage of the blood.
Treatment specific to the cause will be administered by the dentist
- Tooth decay: Filling, crowning, or extraction of the tooth
- Impacted tooth: Extraction
- Abscess: Root canal treatment
For long term care of your teeth from preventable causes of toothache, maintenance of oral hygiene is recommended with brushing twice a day and flossing once daily by the American Dental Association
- Dental Emergency – American Dental Association.
- Agnihotri A, Fedorowicz Z, van Zuuren EJ, Farman AG, Al‐Langawi JH. Antibiotic use for irreversible pulpitis. In: The Cochrane Library [Internet]. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2016 [cited 2018 May 23]. Available from: http://cochranelibrary-wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004969.pub4/full
- Research C for DE and. Drug Safety and Availability – Risk of serious and potentially fatal blood disorder prompts FDA action on oral over-the-counter benzocaine products used for teething and mouth pain and prescription local anesthetics [Internet]. [cited 2018 May 23]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm608265.htm