Toothaches: Causes, Treatments and Prevention

Posted on: October 16, 2018

Why is this happening?

A toothache can happen for all sorts of reasons. The most well-known are cavities, but there are many other conditions that can cause it.

The pain can last anywhere from a few seconds to a constant, miserable ache. If you are suffering from a painful tooth and you want to make it stop, read on to find out the possible reasons your tooth is hurting.

Causes of a toothache

A toothache can be caused by cavities, injury or gum disease; a growing or impacted tooth; misaligned teeth or a jaw that has defects, disease or infection. A person should consult the dentist to find out which of these conditions is causing their pain.

Managing the pain before the dentist appointment

While waiting for a dentist's appointment, a person can use home remedies to make the pain better. Here is how:

  • Hold an ice pack near the aching tooth to numb its nerve endings
  • Apply spices like garlic and clove oil to the site of the aching tooth
  • Use over-the-counter or prescription pain medication to get relief

How the dentist finds the cause of a toothache

To prevent the underlying cause of tooth pain from getting worse, visit the dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will diagnose the toothache in the following way:

1. The dentist will ask the patient about their medical and dental background. They will then perform a physical examination of the nose, sinuses, ears, neck, throat and jaws. The dentist will also do a visual exam of the mouth, tongue, gums and teeth.

2. If the physical exam does not reveal the cause, the dentist will proceed to take X-rays to see if there is a problem in the gums and jaws. Once the cause of the pain is found, treatment begins.

Treating toothache

The cause of the ache determines the treatment that will be recommended to the patient:

1. In the case of dental caries or injury, the tooth will be restored or pulled out.

2. If the pain is caused by gum disease, the teeth and gum will be cleaned. The dentist will then prescribe oral and topical medication to fight the infection.

3. When the pain is caused by severe periodontal disease, a periodontist may perform surgery to treat and repair the gums and jawbone.

4. If a bad bite is found to be the cause of the pain, orthodontic therapy will be used to correct the malocclusion. Braces, retainers or other orthodontic devices will be fitted to the patient's teeth or mouth.

5. If the jaw is found to be severely misaligned or deformed, orthodontic surgery may be necessary.

6. An impacted wisdom tooth will be pulled out.

Future prevention

The best way to cure a toothache caused by tooth decay, injury or gum disease is to make sure it never happens in the first place. Here is how:

  • Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports
  • Brush the teeth twice a day and floss at least once
  • Eat healthy foods, and minimize the intake of sugary and acidic foods
  • Smokers should quit smoking
  • Have routine dental checkups, where a dental professional will clean the teeth to remove any plaque or tartar buildup

We cannot, however, prevent the pain that comes with a growing tooth or the pain that is caused by a bad bite. Such pain can only be managed until the situation resolves itself.

It does not have to be this way

Most causes of a toothache are preventable, and taking good daily care of our mouths is usually all it takes. If it does occur, a persistent toothache should be treated as soon as you notice it. Do not tolerate the pain, hoping it will go away, especially if it is affecting your sleep, your concentration and your life in general. Get rid of the pain by seeing a dentist as soon as you can.

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