What causes toothache?
Toothaches can take a lot of different forms, but they usually have one thing in common: they tend to be a symptom of an issue that a dentist will need to address.
If your tooth or jaw is hurting, there’s a good chance that your body’s telling you that something is wrong – don’t ignore it.
Toothache could be caused by a number of different reasons such as:
- tooth decay
- a cracked tooth
- a loose filling or a broken filling
- inflammation of the pulp inside your tooth
- gum disease
- a dental abscess
You can also have painful teeth if you have a sinus infection, a mouth ulcer or a problem with your jaw.
Toothache can cause pain and discomfort that ranges from mild to very severe. The pain may affect not only your tooth, but also your head, ear and jaw. The pain may be constant, throbbing, or it may come and go.
If you have toothache, you may also have a:
- swelling around your tooth and inside your mouth
- swelling of your jaw and face
- pain when chewing
- bleeding from your tooth or gums
- sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet food
How to ease discomfort
There are a number of things you can do to help relieve any pain and discomfort you may be feeling.
- If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medication you can take. Do not do self medication.
- Eat foods that are easy to chew and swallow and avoid drinks that are very hot or very cold.
- Try lying with your head propped up on a pillow, as lying flat can sometimes make dental pain feel worse.
- Salt water might help. Mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water, then take a mouthful of the liquid and hold it in your mouth so it covers your affected tooth for two minutes, then spit it out. Do not swallow it. Salt water should not be given to children because they may accidentally swallow it, which could make them sick.
- Try using a cold compress or a heat compress against the side of your face. This may give temporary relief.
Visiting your dentist
In many cases, toothaches are just one symptom of a bigger problem that can affect your oral health and your general health if you don’t seek treatment. The longer you put off visiting your dentist, the more serious the problem could become.
Your dentist will conduct a thorough check up by examining your mouth to determine the cause of your pain and recommend the most suitable treatment. This may involve a filling in the case of tooth decay and cavities, root canal treatment if the nerve is involved or treating the gums.
Call your dentist if:
- your toothache persists for more than two days.
- you have a fever.
- you have an infection (swelling, pain when you bite, red gums or a discharge that tastes bad).
- you have trouble breathing or swallowing.