Why do I have a toothache and what to do?

Author: Dr Aushi Patel

Have you ever had a toothache? Unfortunately, most people will experience toothache pain at some point in their lives. Those of us that have experienced toothaches know that not only can it be painful, but it can greatly disrupt our everyday lives.

What are the causes of a toothache?

  • Tooth Decay – this is also known as a “cavity”. When decay spreads through a tooth and starts to approach the nerve of the tooth this may cause pain.

  • Abscessed tooth – this is an infection and originates from within the tooth. It can spread to the root and the surrounding bone. Sometimes the gum surrounding the tooth may be swollen.

  • Cracked tooth– this can expose the dentin or even the nerve. Sometimes cracks are not obvious even though the crack line may run deep into the tooth, causing tooth pain every time one puts pressure on it with biting or chewing.

  • Teeth Grinding and Clenching – this is also known as ‘bruxism’ and it is often done unconsciously and at night during sleep . Unfortunately, it can cause damage to teeth and/or fillings and may irritate the nerves to the point where teeth become sensitive or crack.

  • Infected Gums – early stages of gum problems usually involve an inflamed gum, called gingivitis. The gum is usually red, swollen and will bleed easily. A gum problem can progress to include the jawbone surrounding teeth and represents the later stages of gum disease (or “periodontitis”) this is where there can be advanced loss of bone around the teeth. Because of bone loss, a gum abscess (infection) can form in the space that develops between the tooth and the gum, causing pain.

  • Sinusitis – because the roots of the upper molars are very close to the maxillary sinus cavities, inflammation from the sinus cavities can often cause these molars to be sensitive and feel like a toothache.

  • Third Molars – also called wisdom teeth, are the very last permanent teeth to appear in the mouth. Sometimes there is not enough space for these molars in the mouth. As a result, wisdom teeth become fully or partially trapped (impacted) within the jawbone and below the gum. If they are partially erupted it may be challenging to keep these areas clean and may lead to infection.

woman with closed eyes having toothache while sitting on sofa

A toothache can range from a dull ache to severe, debilitative throbbing.

What are the symptoms of a toothache?

A toothache can range from a dull ache to severe, debilitative throbbing!

Signs and symptoms that can might indicate a tooth problem are:

  • pain with biting or chewing.

  • teeth sensitivity to consuming foods/drinks which are hot, cold and/or sweet.

  • cheek or gums swelling near tooth.

  • discharge or bleeding gums.

  • constant throbbing within a tooth.

Additional symptoms may include – a headache, jaw pain, neck pain, earache, fever or a bad taste/odour in the mouth.

What can I do about toothache pain, before seeing a dentist?

At Anokhi Dental we place great emphasis on at-home oral care and regular check-ups. We also advise proper diagnosis and timely treatment by a dentist to effectively treat a toothache. Pain is your body’s way of signalling that something isn’t right. For some immediate relief here are some simple, yet effective, natural home remedies that may help until you are able to see a dentist.

4 Simple toothache remedies you can do at home: 

1.     Salt-water rinse – For many people, a salt-water rinse is an effective first-line treatment. Salt-water is a natural disinfectant, and it can help loosen food particles and debris that may be stuck in between your teeth. Treating a toothache with salt-water can also help reduce inflammation and heal any oral wounds.

To use this approach, mix 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) of salt into a glass of warm water and use it as a mouthwash

2.     Cold Compress – You may use a cold compress to relieve any pain you’re experiencing, especially if any type of trauma has caused your toothache. When you apply a cold compress, it causes the blood vessels in the area to constrict. This can make the pain less severe. The cold can also reduce any swelling and inflammation.

To use this approach, hold a towel-wrapped bag of ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time. You can repeat this every few hours.

3.     Clove Oil – Clove has been used to treat toothaches throughout history, because the oil can effectively numb pain and reduce inflammation. It contains eugenol, which is a natural antiseptic.

As it is a strong oil, we recommend you mix the clove oil with equal amounts of a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. Dab the oil mixture on to the affected area with a cotton bud.

You can also add a drop of clove oil to a small glass of water and use it as a mouthwash.

4.     Turmeric – Turmeric is one of the most medicinal spices on the planet. It has a whole series of uses and benefits. Turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin. This has many antiseptic, analgesic and antibacterial properties. Curcumin can help stop your tooth pain and can prevent infections and abscesses.

If you want to use turmeric to help with your tooth pain add a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a small amount of water. Add some of this paste to a cotton ball and apply it directly to your sore tooth or gum.

Other tips to help a toothache:

·      Avoid chewing on the affected tooth/area and

·      Minimize extreme temperatures of hot and cold.

·      Keeping the area clean and free of food debris may help as well.

It is important to remember that while home remedies may temporarily alleviate your symptoms, they are not a long term fix. If you are experiencing a toothache, there is an underlying reason for this. It is important to seek professional dental care as promptly as possible.

At Anokhi Dental we appreciate that a toothache is not much fun and we always endeavour to see patients on the day in case of tooth aches and other dental emergencies.

If you cannot find an immediate appointment through our online booking at www.anokhidental.com.au we encourage you to call us direct on 02 9 264 5195.

Woman rinsing and gargling while using mouthwash from a glass, During daily oral hygiene routine, Girl in a purple silk robe, Dental Healthcare Concepts

Warm salt-water rinse

Young woman with toothache and ice bag.

Cold compress for 20 minutes at a time

Close up glass bottle of clove oil and cloves in wooden shovel on burlap sack

Clove oil

Turmeric with white flower

Turmeric paste

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