ToothacheS & How to deal with tooth Pain
Nearly everyone has experienced the pain and frustration of a toothache. Tooth pain can be extremely distracting, but how do we know when a toothache is serious enough to warrant a trip to the dentist? And how do we cope with the pain until we get to a dentist? Below is information we hope you’ll find helpful if you or a loved one find yourself with tooth pain.
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When to see a dentist
You should see a dentist if:
- Pain lasts more than two days or becomes intolerable
- You cannot sleep due to tooth pain
- You have a fever, ear ache or swelling of the jaw
- If you have periodic tooth pain in the same area
Toothaches rarely get better on their own. Even if you experience relief after a few days, the symptoms could return if the underlying issue is not resolved. The longer a tooth goes untreated, the fewer options you will have to fix or save the tooth. Delaying treatment can also lead to more complicated and often more expensive treatments, so if financial concerns are keeping you from the dentist, you should keep that in mind.
How To Stop a Toothache
Tooth Pain Relief
Tooth pain can range from dull to intense, and be ever-present or flare up when chewing or randomly throughout the day. Because toothaches are caused by many different things, there is no guaranteed way to make the pain subside. Below are a list of things that may help ease your discomfort.
Swish mouthwash or warm salt water around in your mouth. This can help dislodge anything that may be stuck in your teeth/gums and causing inflammation.
Brush & Floss
This will also help remove any foreign objects (like popcorn kernels or meat) stuck in your teeth.
Take an NSAID
If you’re able to, take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug such as Ibuprofen or paracetamol. It is important to always take the recommended dose. Aspirin can also provide some relief, but if you are experiencing bleeding, Aspirin may prevent the blood from clotting.
Apply an ice pack to the affected area.
Apply an oral numbing agent with benzocaine, such as Orajel.
Avoid Acidic, Cold, and Hard Foods
Avoid eating acidic, cold, or hard foods until you have permanently resolved the toothache.
See a Dentist
The treatments above are for palliative care only. Most persistent toothaches will require a dentist for treatment. The dentist will help you identify and remedy the cause.
To find out what’s causing your toothache, schedule an exam with a dentist. Once the exam has been completed, they will present a treatment plan with options for resolving your toothache, or a referral to a specialist. The doctor should also be able to provide cost estimates, and more information such as the pros and cons for each treatment option.
Below are a list of common toothache causes:
Food stuck in your teeth or gums
Unlike the most toothaches, those stemming from food stuck in your teeth can often be fixed without a visit to the dentist. Try swishing warm salt water around in your mouth. Then try using floss or a toothpick to carefully dislodge the culprit. Be very careful not to stab your gum, and never use anything sharp to dig things out of your gums. If this fails, or the pain doesn’t subside, a visit to the dentist may be necessary.
Mouth or Jaw Injury
If you’ve had trauma to your face or jaw, it can cause toothaches from swelling or inflammation of the impacted areas. It could also have damaged nerves in your mouth which causes pain.
Sinus infections can cause toothaches. These tend to flare up when the infection drains from your head, and may be more noticeable at night.
Tooth decay is one of the most common reasons for a toothache. Tooth decay leads to cavities which can expose the root and cause pain. Treating tooth decay early is essential, as advanced tooth decay can lead to loss of a tooth.
Gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis can lead to a toothache and tooth loss if left untreated.
Tooth infection (abscessed tooth)
If an area in your tooth’s root, or around the gum of the tooth becomes infected, you have what’s referred to as an abcess. These can cause painful toothaches, and could require antibiotics to treat properly. Left untreated, these can become very serious, even life threatening.
Loss of a Filling or a Crown
If the root of your tooth becomes exposed due to loss of a filling or a crown, it can become very sensitive and painful.
TMJ disorder (temporomandibular joint disorders)
We use our jaws every day to speak and eat, so TMJ pain can be particularly debilitating. If you’re experiencing a toothache in conjunction with sore jaw joints or muscles, it may be related to your TMJ.
Wisdom Tooth Extractions
Wisdom teeth are very important to get removed before they cause serious problems. Come in when you have time and get evaluated to see if you need them removed!
Grinding Teeth (bruxism)
Grinding teeth in your sleep is a common problem for many people. Left unchecked, this can cause permanent loss of enamel of your teeth and can expose the roots of your teeth, causing pain in your teeth and the rest of your face.
Some people are fortunate enough to not have wisdom teeth, but most people will get their wisdom teeth in their late teens to early twenties. When this happens, it can cause serious discomfort. In many cases, your mouth has no room for these new teeth, causing them to push into other teeth, or get stuck part way through the gum tissue. Wisdom tooth pain can be persistent, or come and go, but if it becomes a frequent source of pain, they will likely need to be removed.
Should I go to the ER or Urgent Care?
Unless your mouth pain is trauma related, then probably not. Most ERs and urgent cares do not have a dentist on staff, or on call. Therefore the most they will be able to do is prescribe antibiotics. If you have been suffering from a toothache with swelling for a long period of time, these antibiotics could be essential. However in most cases, you will be charged for the visit, and referred to a dentist.
HOw Much does it cost to fix a toothache?
Because toothaches can be caused by many different things, the only way to find out the cost is to have a dental exam performed. The exam will help diagnose the cause of the toothache, and help the doctor create a treatment plan to address the issue(s) they have discovered.
I think I need to see a dentist, but I’m nervous - any Advice?
Going to the dentist can be a nerve racking experience, but if you’re in pain the quickest way to relief is to see a dentist. Most patients find the procedures to relieve a toothache are usually less painful than the toothache, and can offer lasting relief.
Why are toothaches so painful?
As seen in the image above, teeth have lots of nerves that connect directly to the brain’s pain center.
How can I get to sleep with a toothache?
Toothaches can make getting a good night’s sleep nearly impossible, and lack of sleep can lead to other health issues. If you’ve tried the pain relief methods above, and you’re still losing sleep due to a toothache, you need to should consult a dentist right away.
Are there any good natural toothache remedies?
There is some limited scientific research to support the effectiveness of traditional toothache remedies such as peppermint, clove, and garlic. However, we would strongly recommend taking the steps above to help with any discomfort.